Promoting innovation and learning in social protection globally

Project description

Title: Global Programme ‘Social Protection Innovation and Learning’ (SPIL)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: global
Co-financed: BMZ and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
Overall term: 2020 to 2023



Social protection is a human right. It is also key to sustainable and inclusive economic and social development for individuals, communities and countries. Anybody can be exposed to illness, unemployment, natural disasters or other risks in the course of their life. And yet over half of the world’s population still have little or no access to any form of social protection. Attaining universal social protection (USP) by the year 2030 has been enshrined as Target 1.3 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The COVID-19 pandemic, with its health, economic, and social consequences, has drawn unprecedented global attention to the importance of USP.

Germany was a pioneer in developing social protection in the late 19th century. Today it plays a major role in promoting USP in its partner countries and worldwide, as well as in the Global Partnership for Universal Social Protection ‘USP2030’, of which it is a founding member. During the present ‘Decade of Implementation’ of the SDGs, Germany is focussing on two of the greatest current challenges to attaining USP:

1) enhancing the efficiency of social protection programmes including the digitalisation of information management and,

2) going beyond emergency relief in disaster-stricken regions to foster sustainable resilience through adaptive social protection (ASP).


Selected countries are implementing innovative approaches to social protection.



SPIL takes a two-pronged approach:

1) SPIL pushes the development and dissemination of openIMIS, a digital global good. This provides for efficient data and process management in social protection schemes and for universal health coverage. It is an open-source software which is designed to integrate easily into the overall digital health and social protection architectures of scheme operators. The openIMIS Initiative is co-funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). GIZ hosts the openIMIS coordination desk, which supports its communities of practice with essential services such as feasibility assessments. It also promotes the use, continuous development and further integration of the software into other digital systems. To support social protection scheme operators interested in deploying openIMIS, BMZ and SDC have established a Catalytic Implementation Fund. It provides resources to complement partners’ existing means.

2) With coordination offices on three continents, SPIL facilitates cross-border knowledge exchange and global learning about adaptive social protection (ASP). This aims to improve the resilience of social protection systems with regard to large-scale shocks and crises. The programme brings together social protection with disaster-risk management and climate-change adaptation, collaborating with a series of national, multilateral and international partners. It also implements a variety of exchange formats, with a view to scaling up innovations and consolidating social protection systems in partner countries. The aim is to achieve this via three interrelated areas of action. These are, firstly, global knowledge exchange, which is fostered through high-profile public events that target development and government decision-makers. Secondly, focussed specialist workshops, which are organised to expand the conceptual boundaries of ASP and thirdly, their discoveries, which feed into the global exchange and into operationalising ASP at country level.

Last update: May 2021

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