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WSIS Forum 2023: Digital inclusion and social security services: Key challenges and lessons learned

March 17th, 2023 @ 11:00 CET

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There is a need for an “…urgent and open debate between governments, the private sector, civil society and others on how we move forward together safely in the age of digital interdependence” – António Guterres, UN Secretary General

The United Nations (UN) 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the WSIS Action Lines both call for equal access and inclusion of all communities in an ever-increasing digital society.

Incitement to explore and identify practical solutions to digital inclusion.

The challenge is two-fold: to ensure that ICT-facilitated cost savings are harvested over time, and simultaneously maximise the inclusion of individuals and equitable access to social security, participation amongst the most vulnerable.


Simplification of rules, digitization and bureaucratic reduction may release public resources to address demographic challenges, provide universal services and create a supportive business environment.

The benefits of digitization can be divided into three general categories:

Cost savings, e.g. less time spent and lower financial cost;
Quality improvements, e.g. easier, faster and more equitable access to public services; and
Job creation and economic growth, e.g. lower administrative costs for the private sector.
Benefits may be accrued by citizens, businesses and the public sector itself.

Generally, savings from ICT investments are measured within the public sector. The reason is that socio-economic and qualitative measurements are resource-intensive, uncertain and complicated. Return on investment and business case calculations, therefore, focus on ICT and burden reduction projects where, as a minimum, a positive business case can be guaranteed within the public sector.

Benefits incurred by citizens and businesses are thus regarded as something “extra” that is not necessarily measured. However, there are cases where economic and social gains are measured, for instance, less bureaucracy and faster service delivery, making it cheaper to run a business and easier to be a citizen.

Objective and format of workshop

The primary objective of the workshop is to discuss and identify potential solutions to two key questions:

What are the key barriers to equitable access to social security services in a digital world, both in terms of accessibility, skills and capacities? How do we as social security institutions improve digital inclusion?
What are the most impactful skills and capacities social security institutions can activate to improve digital inclusion in social security?
The workshop will introduce participants to the key challenges and solutions identified by social security institutions globally, and present cases (evidence). The workshop will discuss potential improvement areas for social security plus any lessons learned applicable in the public sector at large.

The workshop is anchored in the “Digital inclusion: improving social security service delivery” project conducted by the International Social Security Association (ISSA) and United Nation University Operating Unit on Policy-Drive Electronic Governance (UNU-EGOV).

For more on the project and for the project context (video, 2:53, in English).

The project findings are available in English, French, Spanish and German.

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March 17th, 2023
11:00 CET
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