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Daily Brief Geostrategic thinking

Social protection and political sustainability

Mamta MurthiMichal Rutkowski, and Ugo Gentilini write for Brookings on the necessity of social protection systems.

Much will be said about this at the next IMF and World Bank meeting from 10 to 16 October.

From our point of view, in times like the present, there are three elements to consider:
– the first concerns the importance of keeping societies cohesive, avoiding – in every possible way – the risk of democratic de-generation. Experts will tell us whether subsidies or other forms of assistance are better. First with the pandemic, and today with war and speculation, the issue of social cohesion is on the agenda. Inequalities, in fact, have worsened;
– the second element, which seems decisive to us, is to rethink social protection systems without sacrificing work and, therefore, re-imagining active labour policies for social cohesion and the complex development of human communities and territories;
– the last, systemic element concerns the inseparability of the discourse on social protection systems from the broad and deep reflection on the reform of the ‘bureaucratic state’. Only in ‘democratic states’ will it be possible to unleash innovation to generate development, strengthen institutions and not divide societies between those who can and those who can not cannot afford to live in dignity.

One final consideration. The historical moment is very difficult for those who have to govern it politically. We will inevitably have a long transition period in which we will have to invest in regional solidarity to ensure that, at national levels, the impacts of the de-generational mega-crisis are contained. Governing the ‘while’ of what is happening, however, also binds us to develop forward-looking scenarios on the future of our societies and labour markets: complex scenarios of ‘political sustainability’.