1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

  • 0
  • 0

Back | Programme Area: Social Policy and Development

Global Social Policy Forum - New Directions for Social Policy: Towards Socially Sustainable Development

Date: 4 - 5 Nov 2013


Global Social Policy Forum - New Directions for Social Policy: Towards Socially Sustainable Development
The Ministry for Social Affairs and Health (MSAH), Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFAF) and National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), all of Finland, in partnership with the International Council for Social Welfare (ICSW) represented by the Finnish Society for Social Welfare and Health (SOSTE), and UNRISD, convened this event on the occasion of UNRISD’s 50th anniversary.

Global social policy


Global social policy – understood as global aspects and dimensions of social policy, as well as social aspects of global policy making, including social and health dimensions of sustainable development — is moving up the development agenda. It is highly relevant in the context of the responses to global crises and in the design and implementation of the post-2015 development agenda.

Purposes of the Forum


Purpose 1: Contribute to framing the post-2015 development agenda, and to strategic priorities for Finland’s membership in the UN Commission for Social Development (CSocD) 2014-2017.
  • Results include a range of publications, from policy-oriented research papers to a policy brief highlighting new perspectives to the role of social policies in the post- 2015 development agenda.

Purpose 2: Contribute to UNRISD's research on new directions in social policy, and to identifying ways it can inform UN processes and dialogues.
  • Results include the identification of knowledge gaps and areas for further research.

Purpose 3: Identify, mobilize and involve relevant partners, including academics, NGOs, and public and private sector experts, in global social policy dialogues and networks. Provide a platform for engagement among participating experts and organizations in areas of joint interest.
  • Results include the identification of next steps for activating a wider, multistakeholder Global Social Policy Network in Finland and for strengthening its connections to global social policy dialogues.

Keynotes, plenaries and dialogue workshops


The event brought together approximately 70 internationally oriented social policy analysts and experts from across the Finnish public, private and NGO sectors, academics and researchers, including experts from the organizing agencies. International invitees included representatives of international organizations, academic institutions, intergovernmental bodies and NGOs.

Opening statements by representatives of the Finnish ministries of Social Affairs and Health, and Development Cooperation, and keynotes from the directors of UNRISD and THL, raised some of the key issues considered during the Forum: Finland’s vision of ”A Society for All“, and social policy in the post-2015 development agenda.

The event was a mix of plenary panels and smaller dialogue workshops focusing on new approaches and innovations in social policy.

Topics of plenary discussion included:
  • global perspectives on social policy (including the social protection floor),
  • European social policy challenges in the global context,
  • support to social protection systems in developing countries,
  • child-sensitive social protection,
  • the Global Age Watch Index,
  • the effectiveness of social protection for tackling inequality in developing countries,
  • the “exportability” and context-specificity of social policy,
  • affordability of social security and essential services for all, and
  • identifying opportunities and critical moments for influencing global social policy.

The dialogue workshops addressed a range of topics relevant to a comprehensive approach to social policy, from care work to cooperatives, disability, food security, gender equality and human rights, and taxation and fiscal considerations. Key challenges for the post-2015 development agenda were identified, as were the role of social policy in low, medium and high income contexts, and knowledge gaps and emerging research needs.

Presentations are available on the website of the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

Improving the quality of national and global policies


Finland has been a long-standing advocate of social protection, and social policy more widely conceived, as essential components of the social dimensions of sustainable development (see, for example, THL's information package on Global Social Policy). With its membership of the UN Commission for Social Development in 2014-2017, Finland is continuing its close engagement with these issues in both national and international forums.

In autumn 2013, UNRISD initiated a research project titled New Directions in Social Policy: Alternatives from and for the Global South. This three-year project aims to examine the emergence, nature and effectiveness of recent developments in social policy in emerging economies, with attention to their implications for social policy in low-income countries.

The Forum provided a platform for networking and cooperation among participants and organizations around areas of joint interest. These included the UNRISD project New Directions in Social Policy: Alternatives from and for the Global South, the Aalto University project Designing and Funding Social Protection in Low-Income Countries, and the new EC-delegated Programme on Supporting the Establishment of Inclusive and Sustainable Social Protection Systems being prepared by a Consortium that includes Finland.

Photo: Nadia308 via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)