Thematic areas

Flagship Thematic Area: Social dialogue

Promoting social dialogue and tripartite engagement in building sustainable social protection systems


  • Social dialogue can enhance the quality of policy design and strategies through consultations and information-sharing between governments and social partners
  • It can help to create trust and enables social partners to arrive at a compromise that is more balanced and informed by the concerns of both workers and employers
  • It contributes to building ownership and commitment to the policies and strategies that are formulated and thus sustainability of the decisions taken
  • It contributes to building a culture of social protection

Key resources

Approach and Technical Support

The role of social dialogue in developing, implementing and evaluating sound social protection policies and sustainable social protection systems cannot be overstated. The Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202) highlights the critical role of social dialogue in formulating and implementing social protection (extension) strategies. Social protection policy measures that are developed through effective social dialogue provide more efficient, balanced and durable solutions, including in periods of crisis such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. 


This has also been recognised at the highest political level. The Resolution on the Global Call to Action  for a human-centred recovery from the COVID-19 adopted by the International Labour Conference (ILC) at its  June 2021 session has emphasised the need to achieve universal access to comprehensive, adequate and sustainable social protection, including nationally defined social protection floors. At the same time it called for the promotion of social dialogue to achieve the objectives of the Call to Action.  


During the same session the ILC adopted also the Resolution and Conclusions concerning social protection. The conclusions underline that universal social protection is crucial for the prevention and reduction of poverty, inequalities, social exclusion and insecurity. It is also an effective crisis response, enabling access to healthcare and stabilizing aggregate demand by supporting income security and facilitating job transitions and business stability. The conclusions call on the ILO constituents to build sustainable social protection systems through national efforts and calls on member States to leverage inclusive social dialogue in all its forms, including collective bargaining, by meaningfully involving social partners in the formulation, monitoring and evaluation of social protection policies and strategies, and in the governance of national social security systems. 

An assessment-based national dialogue (ABND) exercise is a first step towards implementing nationally defined social protection floors. The ABND exercise is based on national multi-stakeholder dialogue concerning social protection strategies, challenges and concrete areas of action. It offers a unique opportunity for UN agencies to build on the synergies of one another and deliver as “One UN” for more efficiency and greater impact.

The ABND exercise assesses whether the SPF is a reality for the whole population of a country and how it can be extended to all members of society. Policy gaps and implementation issues in the social protection system are identified. Recommendations for new or expanded social protection provisions are developed, that guarantee an SPF to all residents and children. The ABND also estimates the financial commitment required to implement the recommendations. During the second stage of the ABND, the Rapid Assessment Protocol (RAP) cost-estimation tool is used to estimate the cost and affordability of implementing the recommendations in each country.

This process takes over one year and entails bilateral consultations, tripartite workshops, and technical seminars. A shared vision of the social protection situation is progressively developed, including the identification of policy gaps and implementation issues. At these meetings, policy recommendations are also drawn up, to achieve a comprehensive SPF that also adheres to international labour standards. The participatory approach adopted throughout the ABND exercise raises awareness among line ministries, workers and employers representatives, civil society organizations, and UN agencies regarding the SPF concept, its relevance for every country, and the importance of a coordinated and holistic approach to effectively develop social protection.


Latest ILO Projects and Programmes

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All interventions

Key Results

Funding gaps

US$ 150,000

An assessment-based national dialogue leads to the adoption/ reform of a national social protection strategy

Impact: Country population
US$ 100,000

A social protection institution put in place participatory and effective governance mechanisms

Impact: Participatory and effective administration of social protection schemes
US$ 50,000

ILO constituents have a practical tool to guide their participation in social dialogue for social protection

Impact: Stronger social protection systems based on effective social dialogue

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ILO Experts

Valérie Schmitt
Deputy Director
Karuna Pal
Head, Programming, Partnerships and Knowledge-Sharing Unit
James Canonge
Social Protection Policy Officer
Clara Van Panhuys
Social Protection Officer
social dialogue Inclusive and effective social dialogue