International conference on Universal Child Grants

6 - 8 February 2019
Children at the Protection of Civilians (POC) Site 3 in Juba, which is run by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

Universal Child Grants (UCGs) are increasingly discussed as a policy instrument to achieve universal social protection and progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. At present, 385 million children live in extreme poverty. This has negative short-term and long-term consequences, including on children’s longevity and quality of life as adults. Social protection has proven an effective instrument in addressing poverty. However, social protection coverage of children worldwide is low and highly uneven.

Cash transfers have been increasingly adopted by countries worldwide. There is growing interest in the potential of transfers to make a significant difference in the lives of children. In addition, the global discussion on universal basic income demonstrates a growing appetite for universal approaches to direct support. At the same time, debates on the effectiveness and trade-offs of alternative policy options remain alive. Key issues around targeting and universalism, conditionality, policy financing, the positioning of cash transfer schemes within wider social and fiscal policy, variations in cash transfer core design features (such as the level of transfers, duration of participation) and their implications for policy impact on children's outcomes and policy sustainability are widely debated. 

This conference, convened by UNICEF, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), brings together national governments and policy practitioners, researchers and the international community to explore the arguments and the evidence emerging from the implementation of alternative cash transfer schemes and their implications for UCGs. It aims to promote informed policy debate and decision-making with regards to cash transfers, social protection and the objectives of reducing child poverty and improving wider outcomes for children.

The conference is one component of a larger UNICEF and ODI-led project on UCGs. It will take place at the ILO's headquarters in Geneva (ILO, 4 Route des Morillons, CH-1211, Genève 22, Switzerland). The event is invitation only.

For further information please email the UCG conference secretariat: [email protected].



Day one – Wednesday 6 February 2019

Sessions with * will be livestreamed on

09:00 – 09:30    


09:30 – 10:00    

Welcome and opening remarks

10:00 – 11:00    

Keynote speeches*

11:00 – 11:30    

Coffee break

11:30 – 13:00    

High-level panel*

13:00 – 14:00    


14:00 – 15:30    

Parallel Session 1 - Thematic considerations

Session 1A: The right to social protection for children*

Session 1B: Dignity and shame  

Session 1C: UCGs and wider policy context considerations

15:30 - 16:00     

Coffee break

16:00 – 17:00    

Plenary session I*

17:00 – 18:30    

Speed networking session (1) – UCG activity at the country level

18:30 – 20:00    

Welcome reception

Day two – Thursday 7 February 2019

09:00 – 09:15    

Welcome to the second day

09:15 – 10:00    

Pivotal debates on UCGs - roundtable discussion*

10:00 – 10:30    

Coffee break

10:30 – 12:00    

Parallel session 2 - Thematic considerations

Session 2A: How do design features affect child poverty outcomes and child well-being?*

Session 2B: Financing

Session 3C: Women’s outcomes and implications for long-term care

12:00 – 13:00    


13:00 – 14:30    

Parallel Session 3 - Country regional experiences

Session 3A: High-income countries*

Session 3B: Africa            

Session 3C: Middle East and North Africa

14:30 – 15:00    

Coffee Break

15:00 – 16:30    

Parallel Session 4 – Country regional experiences

Session 4A: Latin America and the Caribbean

Session 4B: Asia

Session 4C Europe and Central Asia*

16:30 – 17:30    

Plenary 2 

Day 3 - Friday 8 February 2019

09:00 – 10:30     

Parallel Session 5 - Thematic considerations

Session 5A: Political economy of UCGs*

Session 5B: How do design features affect child poverty outcomes and child well-being

Session 5C: Administrative efficiency

Session 5D: Child disability benefits

10:30 – 11:00     

Coffee break

11:00 - 12:00       

Plenary 3*

12:00 - 13:00      


13:00 - 14:00      

Is it time for UCGs? And if so, how do we get there? – Roundtable discussion*

14:00 - 15:00       

High-level panel: Presenting the UCG outcome document - translating lessons into practice*

15:00 – 15:15