Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, has said that investment in social insurance was a key to achieving a stronger global economy, saying societies across the world must begin by strengthening social programmes.
Lagarde spoke at a special forum organised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as part of the ongoing centenary celebration of the ILO to discuss how digitalization, demographic shifts, climate change and globalization will affect the way people manage transitions during the course of their lives.
The social investment she said includes social insurance and social assistance, as well as public spending on health and education, saying “social spending is not just an expense, but rather can be among the wisest of investments in the well-being of our societies.
“Expansion of access to education and health generates broader productivity across the population, allowing all citizens to flourish. To reap the rewards of stronger global economy societies must begin by strengthening social programmes today.
“I would argue that social spending is a core component of the social contract needed to fulfil the missions of our respective institutions.”
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, wants world leaders to put in place measures that will mitigate the impact of unemployment and create access to education and other social investment programmes.
He said, “by mitigating the negative impact of unemployment, creating access to further education, improving labour market opportunities, and securing access to at least the core contents of the right to health, food, water and sanitation, education, housing, social security systems, you can ensure that individuals in all of society are protected from the worst impact of upheavals.”
ILO Director-General Guy Ryder pointed out that 55 per cent of the world’s population is still not covered by social protection, saying the global commitment to social protection is a prerequisite to securing sustainable transitions over the life course.
General Secretary, European Trade Union Confederation, Luca Visentini, said it was essential that workers, including those in the gig economy, had access to lifelong learning and “have real access to universal social protection systems that can protect them from shocks… but at the same time can also make transitions smoother.” But, he added, “all this doesn’t work if there is not a clear strategy in place for quality job creation.”
UN Young Leader for the Sustainable Development Goals, Joannie Marlene Bewa, said, “we have to make sure we have inclusive policies that build on, not only the needs of the most vulnerable but also hear the voices and needs of young people.”
Secretary-General of the Ibero American Conference, who was a member of the Global Commission on the Future of Work Rebeca Grynspan, stressed the need to, “protect workers, not jobs. We need universal social protection and we need a new right in terms of lifelong training because you will have to change your job many times during your labour life.”