Exchanging Experiences, Expanding Opportunities

Reflections on the Third Workshop on Social Policy and International Cooperation

Dear Members of the IASPN virtual community,

The Third edition of the Workshop on Social Policy and International Cooperation was a total success! We had the active participation of 54 delegates from 13 Latin American countries, which were representing 20 social development ministries or related agencies. Also present were delegates from 5 sub-regional cooperation mechanisms who presented the objectives and social policy lines of action of their institutions with the objective of framing the exchange of experiences within the current regional priorities on social development.

In this occasion, the IASPN Technical Secretariat introduced an innovative methodology for the exchange of experiences and lessons learned from 34 programs and projects offered by participating countries. This methodology consisted in capturing –prior to the event – the programmatic interests of the countries, the development of a supply-demand matrix, and subsequently the assignment of “business rounds” in which the offering country presented its program/project in detail and answered questions from interested countries. At the end of each business round, both demanding and supplying countries filled up a form that allowed the IASPN to register potential cooperation actions such as expert visits, internships, academic activities, among others. In total 50 potential cooperation actions were identified, and they will be evaluated by a committee comprised of the IASPN Technical Secretariat and external members. This evaluation is aimed at selecting a limited number of cooperation actions in order to provide funding and follow up. This innovative methodology –including the work done in the Portal previous to the event – was well received by the participants, who highlighted the advantages of carrying on open dialogues with their peers on particular aspects of the programs.

This methodology also allowed the IASPN to identify some trends on social protection needs and priorities in the region. The increasing offer and interest in learning more about food security, child welfare, and elderly care programs clearly stood out, as well as the design of multidimensional poverty indexes. It is also worth noting that from the 34 experiences; only two were conditional cash transfers programs (CCTs.)

These reflections triggered several questions:

What could be causing these trends? Do these variations respond to demographic transitions in the region, and the need to move towards social protection policies capable of adapting to such changes? Is there a need to formulate programs to complement CCTS in order to move towards comprehensive social protection systems? And finally, is becoming apparent the need to reevaluate certain CCT components in order to cater to the State’s new interests?

As a member of the IASPN virtual community, what do you think about these questions? We would like to hear your opinion!