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The Inside Opinion

The world needs a global accelerator for jobs and social protection

Published:Tuesday | October 19, 2021 | 8:56 PMA Digital Integration production, Project Syndicate

GENEVA (ILO News): To ensure a human-centred recovery from the pandemic and empower people to navigate the challenges of a rapidly changing world of work, ILO Director General Guy Ryder has called on countries to back the Global Accelerator for Jobs and Social Protection,  launched by the UN secretary General, jointly with the ILO, during the General Assembly last month. It would increase investments in universal social protection, decent work, and a green and just transition.

In a statement to the IMF and World Bank Group annual meetings, Ryder recalled how the pandemic has been particularly devastating for the most vulnerable, especially women, workers in the informal economy and children, and underlined that they face a very different future depending on where they live.

“The recovery is deeply uneven, spurred by vast differences between advanced and developing economies in access to vaccines, the fiscal capacity and ability of governments to respond, a growing digital divide, and the threat of a looming debt crisis. This is creating a great divergence, which puts the recovery itself at risk and undermines trust and solidarity,” said Ryder.

An estimated 8.8 per cent of total working hours were lost globally in 2020, he said. The equivalent to the hours worked in one year by 255 million full-time workers.

Governments across the world have implemented an unprecedented employment and social protection response to protect people's health, employment and incomes, but these measures are insufficient to mitigate the full impact of the crisis and have left 53.1 per cent of the global population unprotected – some 4.14 billion people, declared Ryder.

“It is time to show solidarity and to increase investments in universal social protection, decent work, and gender-equal societies."

Guy Ryder, ILO director general

The ILO director general encouraged countries to take a “high road” to social protection by investing in universal, comprehensive, adequate and sustainable social protection systems, in line with human-rights principles and international social security standards. Without adequate financing and political will, governments could fall back on a “low-road” turn, marked by minimal benefits and wide coverage gaps, emphasised Ryder.

“It is time to show solidarity and to increase investments in universal social protection, decent work, and gender-equal societies.”

The advances made through the Financing for Development Initiative  need to be taken forward and to scale not just to address the imminent debt crisis, but to unleash investment in an inclusive, sustainable and resilient recovery, rechannelling the IMF's unprecedented allocation of special drawing rights (SDRs) of US$650 billion to those countries and purposes that need it most, said Ryder.

He also talked about fighting climate change by creating decent work. “A green and just transition holds massive potential for all countries, particularly by investing in more sustainable and diversified economies, as well as in the creation of new productive employment opportunities,” said Ryder.

Ryder recalled the key initiatives the ILO has taken to lead a recovery that leaves no one behind:

•            At the 109th International Labour Conference in June 2021, representatives of governments, employers' and workers' organisations of the ILO's 187 member states adopted a global call to action for a human-centred recovery from the COVID-19 crisis that is inclusive, sustainable and resilient.

•            During the General Assembly, the UN secretary General launched, jointly with the ILO, a Global Accelerator for Jobs and Social Protection,  with the aim of creating at least 400 million jobs by 2030, primarily in the green and care economies, and extending social protection floors to over four billion people currently not covered.

•            In the first half of 2022, the ILO will be convening a multilateral forum with a view to reviewing progress and to scaling up commitments in support of member states' human-centred recovery strategies, including through joint initiatives and enhanced institutional arrangements among international and regional institutions.


Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2021.

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