Government of Barbados and United Nations Agencies Kick Off Social Protection System Review
Bridgetown, (September 22, 2020) - The Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs in collaboration with United Nations Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, launched the process to assess and optimize Barbados’ social protection system last Friday in a virtual event. The Core Diagnostic Instrument (CODI) used for this purpose forms part of a suite of internationally recognized tools developed by the Inter-Agency Social Protection Assessment Initiative (ispatools.org). Co-led by the International Labour Organization and UNICEF, this diagnostic marks the first of several UN-government interventions under the Joint Programme on Universal Adaptive Social Protection to Enhance Resilience and Accelerate the SDGs in the Eastern Caribbean. This programme also draws on the expertise of the World Food Programme, the UN Development Programme and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.
Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, the Hon. Cynthia Forde, virtually chaired the high-level launch, also joined by Hon. Colin E. Jordan, Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, and Hon. Ryan R. Straughn, Minister in the Ministry of Finance. Minister Forde noted in her introductory remarks that while social protection was at a high level in Barbados, Government had been trying to attain a more holistic approach, in line with international standards, despite recent threats such as the COVID-19 pandemic. In this regard, the Minister stated “We are really happy to embrace this UN SDG Fund Joint Programme, and here now in this event, to formally commence the process of applying the Core Diagnostic Instrument in Barbados. CODI is a tool used by countries to map their social protection system including the objectives, strategies, policies, and programmes, with a view to identifying policy interventions and track progress against a standardized set of criteria over time. It relies heavily on dialogue among stakeholders across sectors, and this virtual launch will set the stage for the start of this dialogue.”
UN Resident Coordinator Didier Trebucq commended the Government for its leadership and tireless efforts to protect the rights of the most vulnerable, noting that despite Governments’ best intentions to “leave no one behind” Caribbean SIDS have been particularly impacted on the socio-economic front by COVID-19, with a clear risk of widening the inequality gaps if no measures are rapidly taken. He added: “As UN we have also been playing our part in supporting countries with our COVID-19 Multi-Sectoral Response Plan for the Eastern Caribbean launched in May, and currently under expansion to address the longer-term response for the next 15 months. This is the framework for our support to governments in their recovery efforts toward building back better in a post COVID-19 world. ”
Director of the ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean, Dennis Zulu, in delivering remarks noted that the implementation of the CODI responded to a specific request of the Government of Barbados for support, intended to maximize the impact of social protection programmes on people in the context of fiscal constraints under the Barbados Economic Recovery Transformation Plan. Mr. Zulu stated “We are convinced that CODI, together with the other interventions under the SDG Fund Joint Programme, will provide Barbados with a solid analysis and a roadmap to progressively build a universal and adaptive social protection system. This will certainly be a key achievement to attain the goals of the Barbados Economic Recovery Transformation Plan.”
Providing details on programmatic outputs Mr. Andrew Pollard, Coordinator and Joint SDG Fund Focal Point at the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs noted that arising from the programme will be a social protection monitoring mechanism and an 8-month training programme. As stressed by Ariel Pino, expert from the ILO, and Christina Dankmeyer, UNICEF Social Policy Specialist, the training is intended to strengthen country capacities for system analysis and facilitate coordination among key stakeholders throughout the process launched this Friday.
The meeting brought together high-level government representatives, heads of regional and international agencies, international financial institutions and social protection practitioners to introduce the tool, discuss social protection priorities for Barbados and agree on next steps for implementation.
Originally published on UNICEF Eastern Caribbean