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Global policymakers explore urban social safety nets at Beijing forum


Luo Wangshu

| chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2015-11-09 14:27

Policymakers from 75 countries gathered in Beijing on Monday for the 2015 South-South Learning Forum focusing on social safety nets in urban areas, where more than half of the world's population now live.

The week-long forum was opened by Chinese State Counselor Wang Yong, Chinese Minister of Civil Affairs Li Liguo and World Bank Group Vice President Keith Hansen.

Wang told the gathering that China's economic growth will enable the country to increase social welfare, improve the nation's social protection system and aim for social justice.

"The forum provides a platform for international practitioners and policy makers to exchange valuable experiences and ideas," Wang said. "China is a firm advocate for South-South cooperation."

Urbanization poses both opportunities and challenges for governments around the globe. China is sharing its experience designing and implementing the Dibao program, which guarantees a minimum living standard for urban dwellers in an effort to eliminate poverty.

"As the largest developing country with 1.3 billion people, China has developed a social protection system tailored to our specific conditions and focused on results,"Li said. "This has formed a huge, solid and effective social safety net covering over 70 million poor people."

In addition to minimum guarantees, the program includes support for the extremely poor, assistance for people affected by disaster, medical assistance, education assistance, housing, employment and temporary assistance, Li said.

The dialogue and exchange of ideas at the forum "will help countries take more effective actions and contribute to the development of country-tailored and sustainable social protection policies and systems to guarantee and improve the basic living standards for the people in developing countries,"Li said.

Hansen, of the World Bank Group, described the forum as a landmark meeting that is the first global event fully dedicated to discussing social protection in an urbanizing world. About 54 percent of the world's population now lives in urban areas and more than 180,000 people migrate to cities every day, he said.

"Simply put, much of our future depends on whether cities thrive or sink," Hansen said. "This event aims to share our collective knowledge on how to operationalize safety nets in urban settings. We also stand to gain from China's stellar experience in bringing more than 600 million people out of poverty over three decades and the experience with its urban social safety nets program — the Dibao."

About 250 policy makers are attending the forum, which will include lectures, seminars and a one-day field trip.


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