More and better jobs for Ukraine

Why support Ukraine? Why working with the ILO?--Interview with Danish government officials

Marie Pedersen Haug, Senior Advisor, and Lotte Mindedal, Development Counsellor at the Department of European Neighbourhood of the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs explain why Denmark engaged in inclusive job creation in Ukraine and chose ILO as implementing agency.

News | 23 February 2018
Denmark is very committed to the Sustainable Development Goals DGs and one of the few countries in the world that fulfils the UN target of giving 0.7% of its gross national income to development assistance. Why do you spend such a large amount of money on international development assistance? In Danish internal politics, has it been undisputed that the country comes forward with this magnitude of assistance?
Since 1978, there has been political consensus in the Danish Parliament to allocate minimum 0.7 percent of the gross national income to development assistance. Despite a number of changing governments in Denmark since the 70ties and the yearly discussion of the national Finance Act, Denmark will maintain its long-standing, politically broad tradition of fulfilling the UN goal that the world’s rich countries should.
The current development strategy "The World 2030" was launched in January 2017 with a broad political majority in the Danish Parliament. The strategy combines Danish development cooperation and humanitarian action in one strategy, and is also integrated into Denmark’s foreign and security policy. Danish development assistance aims at contributing to realizing the global ambition of the Sustainable Development Goals for the world’s development towards 2030. 
What is the objective of the Danish Neighbourhood Programme and what countries does it cover? How do you assess the situation in Ukraine?

Denmark has contributed to the development in the EU's neighbouring countries in the East and the Balkans. The Danish Neighbourhood Programme, entered its fourth phase in 2017 with a duration of five years. 

The main goal of the Danish Neighbourhood Programme is to contribute to a peaceful and stable Europe with freedom and progress, through contributing to the development of democratic societies with responsible and accountable public authorities, an active civil society as well as free and well-functioning markets. 

The Neighbourhood Programme supports Denmark's foreign policy priority of promoting a peaceful and stable Europe in progress. The cooperation during 2017-2021 will focus on Ukraine and Georgia only, and has two thematic objectives: 1) Promoting human rights and democracy, and 2) Strengthening sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

Both Ukraine and Georgia are transitioning through extensive reform processes aimed at strengthening democracy, promoting human rights and creating sustainable economic growth. There is political will, but with great hindrances for the reform process. Important progress has been made since both countries achieved independence in the beginning of the 1990s with regard to the transition towards democracy and respect for human rights as well as an open economy and a responsible and accountable public sector. However, it is also clear that the transition will be a long and difficult process. Both countries for example experience great challenges in centralized public institutions and authorities, which limit the access to and influence of citizens living outside the larger urban centres. The energy systems are inefficient and the pollution levels are high. In both countries, the media is under pressure and civil society continuously has to work on finding and fulfilling its role in the continued societal development. Large-scale corruption has been one of the main challenges in the Neighbourhood region for many years. However, Georgia has come a long way in fighting corruption while Ukraine still faces major challenges.

Why did you choose the ILO project “Inclusive Labour Markets for Job Creation” in Ukraine to support? What made you think that this is a worthwhile intervention and what are your expectations for ILO as a project partner?

The Neighbourhood Programme is implemented through partners that have a long track-record of implementation in Ukraine and that Denmark has previous working experience with, that have ability to deliver the desired results, and that understand and apply modalities that are geared to become sustainable beyond the Danish Neighbourhood Programme programme period.
ILO has a track-record of specialized technical assistance and is well-positioned to address the labour market challenges, of which many are articulated in its new Decent Work Country Programme for Ukraine. ILO is already active in many technical fields and has a strong mandate for working with the key partners through the tripartite system, i.e. the government and the social partners. Denmark wishes to focus on youth in terms of supporting youth entrepreneurship, the high level of informality and to address the huge skills mismatch in the labour market system, which is assessed to be a major cause of youth unemployment. ILO is found to be an interesting partner for Denmark in this field and we are looking forward to our cooperation.