Social protection

Message at the ASEAN High Level Conference on Social Protection

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines delivered on behalf of Ms Tomoko Nishimoto, Assistant Director-General and Regional Director, ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific at the ASEAN High Level Conference on Social Protection

Statement | Manila, Philippines | 15 August 2017
On behalf of Ms Tomoko Nishimoto, the ILO Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, allow me to express our sincere congratulations on ASEAN’s 50th year anniversary!

That social protection is the theme of today’s High Level conference is very significant for the commemoration of ASEAN’s anniversary. Events like this provide us with a great opportunity to showcase the remarkable progress achieved by these countries.

Success stories need to be recognized and shared, as they help us to accelerate the important efforts being made for greater public investment in social protection in member states.

The ASEAN member States have made tremendous progress in economic and social development during the past five decades. Poverty levels across the region have never been so low. However, this picture is still shaded by growing inequalities. The economic gains have not been redistributed evenly across all populations. Large groups remain vulnerable and continue struggling to access decent work, adequate income and living conditions.

Social protection is a key policy tool to reduce these inequalities.

Ladies and gentlemen, the first call made by Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development is “a world where no one is left behind”. That world cannot be attained without social protection.

It is encouraging to see the positive momentum the response to this call is gaining in this region. More and more governments in this region place Social Protection at the core of their development agenda.

In 2017 it is unacceptable that more than seventy per cent of the world population still does not have access to adequate social protection. In ASEAN, six countries have not yet reached universal health coverage, half of the workforce has no protection against occupational accidents and diseases, fewer than one-in-three older persons receive an old-age pension.

Social protection is a human right, and we should no longer accept its absence.

In ASEAN, fully realizing the potential that social protection measures can have in eradicating poverty and reducing inequalities, as well as supporting economic development, will require:
  • a significant rise in the aggregate level of expenditure on social protection;
  • more risk-pooling and redistribution through social insurance and tax-financed schemes;
  • efficient delivery of existing schemes;
  • effective participation of social partners in the design and implementation of schemes;
  • and finally, none of these goals is achievable without growing political support, in particular, the creation of additional fiscal space for inclusive social protection.
Ladies and gentlemen,

In 2013, when the ASEAN member States adopted the Declaration on Strengthening Social Protection, they reaffirmed their commitment to extend social protection to all, as a non-negotiable measure to ensure that no one is left behind in the process of integrating the ASEAN Community.

In many ways the ASEAN Declaration echoes the ILO Social Protection Floors Recommendation. This Recommendation was adopted a year earlier, in 2012, by the ILO’s member States, including all the ASEAN member States.

Over the past decade, the ILO, with support of donors including the Governments of Japan and the Republic of Korea, has proudly been associated with ASEAN’s endeavour to improve social protection systems. A few examples of on-going collaboration are regional studies and dialogues on current and future trends of pension systems, social protection of migrant workers, the challenge of extending coverage to workers in the informal economy, financing of social protection, and monitoring of progress in extending social protection.

The ILO has also been involved with many of your countries providing technical assistance at national level in processes such as pension reforms, social protection policy and scheme design.

By being here today you can shape the new agenda for social protection that will continue advancing the integration of the ASEAN Community. And you can rely on the ILO to support your efforts. This will be a major part of the work of our organization in the years to come.

Today’s celebration marks a new milestone on the long journey towards adequate social protection for all in ASEAN.

Let me wish you all a successful Conference.

Thank you.