Responding to increasing client demand for analytical and operational support in this area, the ECA region organized a workshop entitled “Activation & Pathways to Self-sufficiency in ECA”. The workshop was held at HQ on September 6-8, 2011, and was a joint effort that benefited from contributions from many colleagues in the region, as well as experts inside and outside the Bank. It was designed as a “kick-off” event for a number of activation-related projects in the ECA region. Building on previous and on-going activities of the World Bank, European Commission, OECD and others, these projects will contribute to an emerging critical mass of policy evidence and analysis.
Making progress on the activation agenda is potentially crucial for reducing poverty and for putting social protection systems on a sustainable path. The ECA region is increasingly prioritizing “activation” or “active inclusion” as a social policy objective and approach. The interest seems to stem from many angles: (i) from a (perhaps political) desire to get recipients of social assistance and/or unemployment benefits “back-to-work”; (ii) from a labor-market concern about high and persistent unemployment in general and of specific groups (e.g., youth), or a desire to create a more dynamic labor market where people move into and between jobs more quickly; (iii) from a social and ethical interest of promoting inclusion in the productive economy and in society so that all individuals can leverage and expand their potential to contribute; and so forth.