Guaranteeing more equitable development outcomes continues to be a central preoccupation for developing countries in all the world’s regions. This concern has become even more pressing as emerging evidence suggests that neither the developmental approaches adopted in the 1960s and 70s nor the “structural adjustment” reforms of subsequent decades have been effective strategies for increasing well-being evenly across societies and/or for reducing extreme disadvantages faced by the poorest and most vulnerable groups. As many countries in Africa, Latin America and elsewhere continue to struggle with high levels of poverty, consensus has been emerging on the need to balance economic growth with equity and social justice concerns. Policies designed to address development challenges can be informed by analyses made of the different social and economic dimensions of developmental processes involved, as well as by insights arising from discussions about cases of individual countries as part of a comparative learn ing exercise.
Within this context, the Government of the Republic of South Africa, led by the Presidency and the Department of Social Development within the Social Sector Cluster, took the initiative to organise a conference to discuss social protection and poverty. In response to this initiative, the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Country Office in South Africa, together with the Regional Bureau for Africa and the International Poverty Centre, worked along with the Government of the Republic of South Africa to give shape to the Bi-Regional Conference on Social Protection and Poverty Reduction, scheduled to take place on June 7th, 8th and 9th, 2007, in Cape Town, South Africa. The UNDP Regional Bureau for Latin America and the United Kingdom Department for International Development also joined in as sponsors of the Conference.
General objective of the Conference
The overall objective of this bi-regional conference is to establish an evidence-based South-South dialogue between policy/decision makers and researchers, with a view to informing policies on broad-based social protection while accelerating progress towards achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and of human development broadly speaking. The conference intends to engage policy makers in a reflection about the nature, feasibility and sustainability of an integrated approach to broad-based social protection, aimed at accelerating poverty reduction and promoting the achievement of the MDGs.
Participants will address issues related to social protection and social security, including conditional and non-contributory cash transfer programmes, as well as poverty reduction and MDGs-based development strategies. The conference will also address issues such as job creation and labour market outcomes as means to financially sustain programmes and achieve lasting reductions in poverty. Sessions shall feature a mix of presentations and discussions based on research and policy experiences, in such a way as to be conducive to a fruitful exchange of views between analysts and decision makers.