Project Galileo Spotlight: International Policy Center for Inclusive Growth
Cloudflare Policy Analyst Jocelyn Woolbright and IPC-IG Head of Knowledge Management Patricia Velloso will discuss Social Protection, a knowledge-sharing platform that has been crucial in helping communities during COVID-19.
Perfect. Let's get started. So, hi everybody. My name is Jocelyn. I'm a policy analyst on the public policy team and I work on all things Project Galileo, our election security project, and I'm super happy to have Patricia join this Cloudflare for TV session.
Patricia is part of the International Policy Center for Inclusive Growth and I'm really excited to have her talk about her organization and some of the things that they've been doing during COVID.
So, thanks Patricia for taking the time to chat.
I know you are super busy with COVID -19 relief, so I really appreciate it.
But to start, so do you want to give us an overview of the International Policy Center for Inclusive Growth?
Sure, thanks for having me and I'm happy to be here as well.
So, my name is Patricia Velloso, as you just said.
I'm part of the International Policy Center for Inclusive Growth, also known as IPC-IG.
The IPC-IG is a research center that is a product of a partnership between UNDP, the United Nations Development Program, and the Brazilian government.
And we are currently based in Brasilia, in Brazil, and we are mainly focused on South-South cooperation and social protection policies.
And this is our basic story.
Yeah, of course. So, how did you originally start at IPC-IG? I had a different career path from most people, I guess.
I worked as an attorney for five years, and then I went abroad to do a master's in public policy, development, and political economy.
And I started working with development, fell in love with development, and wanted to know more about social policies and work with them.
And happily, I found this position at my home country, which was great. And so, I went back to Brazil and started working at IPC-IG, which was great.
Yeah, that's interesting.
I remember when IPC -IG's application for Project Galileo came in, and as you know, I lived in Brazil for a year, so I have a lot of love for this organization specifically.
So, I know that IPC-IG created this social protections organization.
Can you kind of walk us through that and why you launched this project?
Sure. Socialprotection.org is a project within the IPC-IG. The socialprotection.org platform is an online platform, it's a member-based platform dedicated to social protection, of course.
And it was launched in response to a G20 recommendation.
And mainly, although it is an unbranded platform, it is mainly funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs, the DFAT, and GIZ from Germany.
And basically, our job is to gather and synthesize and organize content from all over the world regarding social protection policies and other social policies, and making it accessible and more understandable for everyone.
Our public is both policymakers and specialized people working already for many years with social protection, and people that don't know anything yet and want to learn more.
So, can you kind of give some examples of what these social policies might be?
For a lot of people, they might not know what the development organizations do.
So, can you maybe give an example of what some of these social policies are, and where exactly in the world these types of policies are being used?
So, social protection is everywhere, basically.
There's no single definition of what social protection is.
But basically, they are policies that try to reduce poverty or take people out of poverty, more in a sense of avoiding that they suffer too much with shocks that happen in everyone's life or that could happen to anyone.
So, social protection is social assistance, mainly, and social insurance.
So, basically, we think about what could happen to a person through her lifetime, and what are the shocks that could make that person fall into poverty, and we try to avoid them.
So, it's a policy of, I don't know, unemployment policies, or health insurance, or social assistance if you're already in a condition of poverty, and also labor market policies sometimes.
So, those are the policies that we work with, and those are the social protection policies.
And they occur everywhere. We have countries like the Scandinavian countries that have really strong social protection systems, and we have countries with barely any social protection at all.
And we're trying to work on that and raise awareness and show people how important they are.
And I feel like this COVID crisis is showing exactly that. It's showing how important those policies are.
It's important to show that those systems must be in place in order for us to have a more comprehensive and a more effective response to a crisis like this.
Of course, I think COVID-19 has really put a spotlight on organizations such as yours that have been advocating for these types of social protections that you talked about, and being able to bring relief to a lot of these countries that might not have the resources or expertise on how to combat a pandemic.
A lot of countries, I think, are in that place where we've never had this happen before.
So, it's definitely a learning opportunity. So, kind of getting everybody together to talk about these issues is such an important platform.
So, how do you build a community around this? So, how do you become a member, and what do some of these members look like of the social protections organization?
Okay. So, the platform offers this free membership. You can basically access most of the platform's content for free, and you don't have to create an account for that.
But by creating an account, you can connect with other members.
We have actually very strong online communities where we share knowledge and documents and research on specific topics of social protection.
Let's say if you're interested in policies for children, for example, or policies for shock responsiveness, we have specific communities debating just that.
So, you can connect with people that are also interested in this subject and learn with them and exchange knowledge with people from all over the world regarding one specific subject.
You can also share your own content on socialprotection.org. So, if you have research, if you're doing research on social protection and you want to share it with a wider audience, we also do that.
And as a member, you can do all this.
You can share your own research, you can connect with other members and build a community around the subject and the subjects that you like.
You can also build a community yourself if you feel like you have something else that you want to talk about regarding social protection.
So, we welcome that as well. And we also are super active on social media.
So, we also have a large community there. Our newsletters are also very popular.
So, our community is basically discussing many ways of talking about social protection.
Yeah, of course. So, it seems like you have this huge community of educators and policymakers and people just trying to naturally learn about these social protections.
And this platform gives a lot of people great resources.
I'm curious now more on the technical side of it. So, the amount of interaction you can have now online and reaching a lot of the developing part of the world, how have you been able to manage it from that side?
So, a lot of these communities that you might be trying to reach might not have access to this type of technology.
So, what does that look on the technical side? Well, we are super worried about that because we need to make sure that the platform is at least accessible in countries where the Internet is not strong enough and it's not there.
So, this is a constant preoccupation for us. We are constantly working and trying to improve our services and improve the platform's performance.
And actually, Cloudflare has been helping us a lot with that.
And you have been helping us with our bandwidth.
And last year, actually, we had a lot of problems because we suffered a lot of DOS attacks.
And that was really worrisome for us because we were in the middle of e-courses and other really cool initiatives, especially for countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
And we were super worried that people would lose access to the platform.
So, then it was actually when we got to know Cloudflare and it was super helpful.
It basically saved our lives because it ensured that the website was on and everything was going smoothly and people were able to access it.
I'm happy to hear that we played this small part in just making sure that people have access to a lot of the great resources that you're providing.
So, I think the Internet has really given us an opportunity to kind of promote these types of protections and organizations and be able to rapidly release information.
So, how has that helped your organization kind of produce these policies?
Well, we are less involved with the production and more involved with the awareness raising and informative side of that.
So, our goal is to inform. IPC-IG works a lot with more technical advice on how to formulate social policies and social protection policies.
But us on socialprotection.org, we work more with disseminating the content and informing people and making sure that they have all the information that they need to build effective policies or even people that are not policymakers, but they work in international organizations or NGOs or grassroots organizations in general, that they have information on what works and what doesn't and a system that helps or maybe get inspired by something that happened in another country.
So, Internet and connectivity has been helping us a lot.
And since we are a member-based platform, this is especially important for us because we count on our members as well to share their experiences and share their experiences as users from those policies in their respective countries.
So, it's important for us to hear their side as well.
And yeah, and this connection is everything to us.
Of course, and getting that information into people's hands is such an important part.
So, what do you think the typical audience for somebody trying to learn more about social protections?
Is it more of the policymakers or maybe individuals that are trying to learn what types of different options they have?
I think we have all of them. On our online communities, you can see really basic discussions and basic debates going on to very high-level debates of people that are super experienced in the subject.
So, we have both publics and we try to make sure that we always attend and have interesting things for both audiences.
So, the person that doesn't know anything and the person that knows a lot already and needs to connect with other experts.
We created last year.
Actually, we started creating last year and we launched it this year. An online course on the basics of social protection.
We just launched one which discusses the definition of social protection.
So, a person that knows nothing could start there.
And then we are developing other courses on the basics of social protection.
So, trying to reach that audience. And we have the webinars that are also like a huge success on the platform where we get super famous experts on the area of social protection to discuss things that are more high-level and go deep on the results and the impacts and the design of the social policies.
That's really great.
So, during the pandemic, I know social protections are incredibly important.
And specifically, a lot of these developed countries don't have the resources to be able to combat this pandemic.
And you all have played such a vital role in disseminating information.
Can you kind of talk a little bit about what you're working on in terms of COVID-19 relief efforts?
Sure. Yeah, we have been busy.
But we're glad to do it because we feel that COVID is showing how important those policies are.
And IPC-IG is working with their researchers and mapping.
They're doing an amazing matrix mapping the social protection policies that are being produced all over the world to respond to the crisis.
And we are working on disseminating this mapping.
And at socialprotection.org, also, we are mapping news from all over the world as well and separating by regions.
We are producing a weekly newsletter that is also super interesting with curated content regarding social protection policies.
And we are producing a series of webinars that also discuss those policies.
So, how the social protection policies affect, for example, older people or formal workers, informal workers, children, women, and how we're analyzing those dynamics.
So, we've been quite busy. And this initiative as well as also socialprotection.org is open to the public as well.
So, I invite the audience of this transmission.
If you have news on your country about social protection policies, or the social assistance that you're getting, or the social insurance that should be working or not, let us know and get in touch.
And we'll be happy to have you on board as well.
Yeah, of course. Whenever I was going through, when you all first applied for Project Galileo, I know that was a, I remember when your application came in, and it was a stressful time for you.
So, what were some of the challenges that you faced when you launched the platform?
To be honest, we didn't expect to be the size that we are now.
We have been overwhelmed with the positive response that we're getting.
So, this is really great for us. The platform is growing a lot.
And we're just trying to keep up and continue to produce good content and to organize content in a way that people enjoy and people find easy.
And, yeah, I feel keeping up with the latest technologies and making sure that you have a nice content and nicely displayed content as well is super important.
And we're working a lot to ensure that. And, again, Project Galileo and Cloudflare were essential in that for us.
I mean, I have no words to thank you for that, because it was truly life-changing.
And I'm sure that a lot of our success and our performance now is also from you.
It's also... That's very nice to hear.
But, honestly, I think a lot of the platform, whenever I go on the site, it's structured in such a way that makes it easy to understand.
For somebody like me, that I don't technically have a development background, but I've done a lot of this type of research.
So, can you kind of explain how the platform is structured?
Sure. I'm glad to hear that. I'm really glad to hear that. We have basically four pillars, where we divide our content.
We have over 15 different kinds of content on the platform, and we divide it on the pillars of discover, connect, learn, and share.
You can find a very intuitive division of that content, and we have publications, webinars, e -courses, and program profiles from all over the world.
We have news, events going on. We have the online communities. We have a huge database of members that are interested in social protection.
We have a social space for members to connect.
We have a grocery and social protection. We have a number of different content divided into very straightforward categories and divided within those pillars.
I think it's also worth mentioning that we have a tailored taxonomy.
Each of those content types have a lot of filters where you can narrow your research down.
If you're interested, let's say, in social assistance policies for children in, I don't know, Zambia, you can narrow down to all those criteria and the year and the organization that published it.
Those filters and those pillars and divisions are made to facilitate the search process.
Hopefully, it's working.
Yeah, no, that's great. I think that the easier that platforms like this to be able to narrow down exactly what types of information that you want is such a useful tool, especially where maybe it's more difficult to reach a broader audience in terms of the technical aspects of it.
I know you mentioned that you have partners all around the world, and with the COVID-19 relief efforts, have you seen different attitudes toward the virus and how different partners of yours are collecting information or giving this information out?
For example, I know Brazil has stopped sharing some of their coronavirus data.
What do you think your partners around the world, if they have different attitudes about the virus, is that common?
Well, hopefully, everyone will have a different attitude than what's going on in Brazil.
I feel like people are more connected and people are appreciating this opportunity of engaging with each other and learning that connecting online and working online is not that hard.
We can actually do it pretty well.
We just need to organize ourselves. I've seen on our side from social protection, I feel a wonderful movement, actually, of people working together and gathering and, okay, let's work on this and make sure that people get information about this.
I think it's really wonderful. I've seen other organizations, other international organizations also doing their own share of mapping.
Our initiative on COVID is also done by a lot of other people. A lot of international organizations are helping us on this process of mapping and organizing the content.
We have, for example, translators as well supporting us on a volunteer basis as well.
I feel a wonderful movement of people gathering and trying to make sure that information is there and it's available and it's accessible in languages and formats and always possible.
Yeah, of course. I think we've seen, at least what I've noticed, is that the international community has really been able to come together and we all realize that we're facing this, whoever you are, whatever ethnicity you are, we're all facing this pandemic together and trying to figure out what ways these types of organizations can help in bringing relief is such an important part of these types of programs that you have.
So, more on like the technical side, what kind of security challenges do you have?
Is it more of, you're saying, malicious types of attacks of your site or is it just large influxes of traffic that you faced?
I think we have both actually. We had only large traffic until last year and last year we had the malicious attacks and we were absolutely desperate about that because the platform kept falling down and we didn't, people couldn't access it and as I mentioned before, we were in the middle of super important processes in the platform and it was when actually we applied for Project Galileo and got to know Cloudflare.
When the attacks started happening and we figured out that we were being attacked, our IT team basically stopped everything that they were doing and started researching for solutions and Cloudflare came up as the best option for us and probably the best option in the market today and you were super helpful, super quick and that was really important to us as well because we were really desperate to make sure that everyone got access and everyone would continue to access and I feel this rapidness of response is important both in social policies and on the Internet because if we are relying so much on that to connect and to share knowledge, we need to make sure that it works and you've been doing this for us for a while now and I checked with my IT team before we got into the call and only last month, Cloudflare blocked like almost 2,000 malicious attacks for us so it's a pretty good number and we're super happy about it.
Oh that's great to hear. I'm so happy that we were able to help in just a small way in keeping you all online.
So what, one of my last questions that I'd love to ask is what do you want more people to know about the social protections platform and really what's your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is connecting to people and I feel I really believe in social protection as a way of, as a form of development, as essential for development.
I really believe in this and I believe in my job and I believe that I need to send this message to everyone that I can and make sure that people understand how important it is.
I feel like COVID is showing this and it's unfortunate that it's happening but somehow it's showing that social protection policies are important and I'm working hard to basically disseminate this content and I want everyone to know how important they are so they can advocate for these policies within their context, local government, regional government, federal governments and advocate for these changes that ensure more quality and more quality of life for everyone and that's it.
Yeah of course I think that COVID-19 has, it's been incredibly unfortunate but it's also given us the opportunity to be able to understand how important these types of platforms are and these social policies that we should be conducting outside of a pandemic while also doing it during a pandemic and showing the importance of these types of projects.
Do you have any success stories that you're able to talk about or any places, case studies that you've worked on about some of these policies in practice?
Well I have a lot of them actually but I would invite everyone to join socialprotection.org so they could learn about those policies in their countries and in their specific context.
I feel like it's super important to understand how those policies are working in your country and then you can understand how they could work everywhere else.
So I invite everyone to join social protection, watch our webinars, I don't know subscribe to our newsletters and check out what we're doing especially the day learning courses.
I think they're a super good way to start and you see that social protection is helping a lot of people everywhere from social assistance policies that ensure families have food security and basic resources to live through the month and in social insurance that are basically saving people as well when something like unemployment or a health related issue happens to them.
And you see that within the developing world but also in places for example you mentioned a lot of the Nordic countries that have these like very developed social protections and policies but everybody in their life wherever you are going to have moments where you might have lost your job and you're still not sure about these resources.
So it really touches a lot of different people and I really appreciate you coming to tell your story because it's so this work is so interesting.
Thank you I appreciate the opportunity of coming to talk about something that I'm really passionate about and I really appreciate your help making sure that this work continues and it is available for more people so I really really appreciate that.
Of course yeah thank you so much for your time and I hope you have I hope the rest of your work in the COVID-19 relief space goes well and I know guys are doing such great work in it so I really really wish you luck in in that space.