The recent global financial crisis and economic slowdown, with its severe social impacts, have been negatively affecting all countries, particularly the developing countries, threatening the livelihoods, well-being and development opportunities of millions of people, imposing new pressures on social cohesion and eroding the ability of many countries to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals.

At the 8th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM 8) in Brussels in October 2010, Heads of State and Government recognized the significance of social safety nets and social protection as an economic stabilizer in times of crisis, and called for common strategies to promote social cohesion as contribution to sustainable development.

The ASEM Forum on Social Safety Nets, initiated by Viet Nam and co-sponsored by Finland, was approved at the said Meeting. This initiative would also contribute to the ASEM dialogue of Labor and Employment Ministers in view of the 4th Labor and Employment Ministers Meeting in 2012.