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SPACE Social Protection in the COVID-19 Recovery: Opportunities and Challenges

30 September 2020 — By Edward Archibald, with Valentina Barca, Emily Wylde and Laura Alfers, and input from experts on the Social Protection Approaches to COVID-19: Expert Advice Helpline (SPACE)

This paper analyses the potential contribution of social protection in supporting poor and vulnerable populations over the medium term – defined loosely as the period from the present until end 2022. The decade prior to COVID-19 witnessed an increasing global focus on social protection, a phenomenon illustrated by the inclusion of social protection as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Over the past six months, social protection has been at the forefront of responses to COVID-19, with many governments invoking social assistance and other measures as short-term buffers to the immediate impacts of the pandemic. While effective implementation of existing initiatives remains an urgent priority, it is now important for governments and others to consider the role of social protection amidst a global economic slowdown and an expected prolonged recession in many regions and countries. This paper explores what role social protection can and should play over the medium term, as governments seek to steer their economies through recession and into a recovery. It outlines the opportunities, challenges and potential trade-offs which social protection actors will face over the medium term.