GENEVA – The Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Guy Ryder, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, have called for world leaders to support social security and assistance programmes worldwide, saying they are critical to achieving the goals of the UN’s global development agenda.

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Social protection programmes must be ready to reach an additional four billion people by the year 2030, the target date for the  UN’s Sustainable Development Agenda    and its 17 Goals, they said.

Speaking to over 100 top government officials, business representatives, trade unionists and others, at the third meeting of the Multi-Stakeholder Partnership aiming at achieving Sustainable Development Goal 1.3 on Social Protection, Ryder said that greater efforts would be required at all levels.

According tohim: “Closing the social protection gap is at the heart of the ILO’s commitment to achieving social justice. I know you all are present here today because you – and the institutions you represent – are also called to act.”

Bachelet, on her part, said  such programmes were critical, both to support human rights and to ensure that development work has a lasting impact.

She said: “We are beginning to accept that there are no shortcuts to true development and that well-being can only be achieved through investment in people, without exception. Investing in people is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.”

Their call for action asks countries to secure and responsibly manage public resources for social protection, and to promote dialogue to increase the coverage of public pensions, health care, family allowances, unemployment and maternity benefits and other programmes.

The ILO estimates that only 45 per cent of the global population currently has access to social protection.

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