Lead agencies: ILO and WHO
Cooperating agencies: FAO, IMF, OHCHR, UN Regional Commissions, UNAIDS, UN-DESA, UNDP, UNESCO, UNFPA, UN-HABITAT, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNODC, UNRWA, WFP, WMO and World Bank


The global economic and financial crisis threatens to roll back decades of investment in health and human development. It risks compromising progress towards internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs. In the long-term, it could lead to significant challenges to social stability, peace and security in various parts of the world. Social protection coverage is particularly low in many developing countries. Support is needed to protect those fundamental elements of society – education, nutrition, health, social services, and protection against natural disasters, the sciences, culture and communication – that make human development possible but which are often the first to be hit in a recession.

The Social Protection Floor Initiative is based on the premise that, once undone, progress on development goals cannot easily be recovered without considerable re-investment and political re-commitment. Human development is a long-term investment carrying high long-term individual and social returns. The aim of this initiative is therefore to advocate for and advise on the provision of a social protection floor and public resource spending in ways that will both kick-start growth and support more inclusive and sustainable social and economic development.

The Social Protection Floor Initiative sees the current crisis as an opportunity to encourage and support countries to review policies and strategies for social transfers and access to needed services, aligning them along the principles of inclusion, equity and social justice as a major way of investing out of the crisis and achieving long-term stability.