As we approach the end of 2022, it is time to look back not only at a busy year, but also the closing of a very productive triennium full of innovations.
The recent World Social Security Forum (WSSF) signalled the end of the three-year programme and budget cycle of the ISSA. Over 1000 social security leaders, professionals and experts gathered in Marrakech, Morocco to focus on the role of social security for resilient and inclusive societies. Strategies, innovations and good practices were shared and discussed, and new connections and relationships were formed, which will bring forward social security coverage, services and delivery in the years to come.
The newly elected leadership of the ISSA stands ready to build on these experiences to strengthen the role of social security and the role of the Association over the next triennium.
The 2020–2022 triennium was marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, still unknown when the programme of activities was adopted in late 2019. But the Association quickly adapted to respond to the COVID-19 challenges, as did all social security institutions across the world. The ISSA established the COVID-19 Monitor, which tracked over 1,800 social protection measures across 208 countries and territories.
Early in 2020, all in-presence meetings had to be cancelled and the ISSA innovated to respond to an increased demand for networking and sharing of experiences during the first months of the pandemic. Quickly, new solutions were found, and a record number of meetings were held, mostly virtual but with high attendance by ISSA members. Over 220 ISSA events were organized during the three years, including 135 webinars, with over 20,000 registered participants. Cooperation and networking within regions and linguistic groups were also reinforced, symbolized by the establishment of new Focal Points for the English-speaking Caribbean Countries, French-speaking Countries and Portuguese-speaking countries, in addition to transfers and continuation of the already existing regional structures.
The strengthened emphasis on sharing knowledge and good practices also contributed to 75 analytical articles – a totally new product – and a large number of new ISSA reports. It also enhanced the role of the Technical Commissions which are the cornerstone of the technical activities of ISSA. The crisis stimulated the creation of new ISSA Guidelines on the continuity and resilience of social security systems and services, and on human resource management in the human-digital age, both of which were launched at the World Forum. A lot has been learnt on these issues during the past three years, and the guidelines build on good practices of ISSA member institutions.
Taking advantage of the key role of social security and the pivotal importance of social security institutions globally during the crisis, the ISSA also upscaled the promotion of the essential importance of modern and agile social security administration. This included enhanced partnerships with the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), United Nations (UN) agencies and regional organizations. The ISSA also contributed to the G20, BRICS and other international platforms.
The 2021 member survey demonstrated the positive evaluation of the ISSA’s developments by the Association’s global membership, which more than ever perceives the ISSA as an innovative service provider. After more than two years of COVID-19 restrictions, ISSA members were finally able to meet in person again in 2022. First during the 16th ISSA International Conference on Information and Communication Technology in Social Security, and the Regional Social Security Forum for Europe, organized back-to-back in Estonia, Tallinn in 2022. Then of course during the World Social Security Forum in Morocco, but also in technical seminars, a workshop and diploma trainings.
The ISSA is grateful to all its 322 members institutions in 161 countries for their hard work to strengthen social security and for their active contributions to the Association’s activities. Through the past triennium, this global community of social security institutions has demonstrated great resilience in the face of major challenges, and together we stand stronger in delivering innovations and solutions for the future.
The triennium showed how ISSA was able to fulfil the three pillars of its mission by promoting social security, networking our membership and by creating and sharing applied knowledge.