Ambassador Kenji Hiramatsu, Director General for Global Issues at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr. Akio Hosono, Director JICA Research Institute
Miss. Akiko Yuge, Director of UN Rep Office in Japan
Mr Magdy Martinez-Soliman, Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Director, Bureau for Development Policy, UNDP
Colleagues from the other international organizations
It is a privilege for me to participate in this meeting. We are just at the beginning of an intense process of consultations and discussions on the contours of the development agenda for the years to come. The outcomes will be of value to our constituents and to people in all countries. With this meeting, I think we are starting off this process on the right foot.
Let me give you a few reasons why I think this is a special meeting.
First, for its method: an open, informed consultation with stakeholders and policy-makers from all regions. I welcome the representatives and the experts from governments, civil society, trade unions and employers. Dialogue and consultation with unions and the private sector are founding principles underlying ILO values and method of work. It is a practice entrenched in our own governing structures. We know by experience that it is a practice that leads to sound and effective design of policy and it ensures ownership in implementation.
Second, the content of this meeting - growth, structural change and employment - is one of the defining subjects of our times. A series of consecutive crisis – food, fuel and financial – have hit hard labour markets in both developing and developed countries, exacerbating an already precarious jobs situation.
Global unemployment estimates have increased from 170 million in 2007 to 197 million in 2011, reaching an unprecedented high, and are projected to grow further. A large portion of the unemployed - about 75 million - are young women and men. Youth unemployment rates are alarmingly high in the developed world: almost 50% in Spain and Greece, around 30% in Slovakia, Ireland, Portugal and Italy, 16% in the United States. And the rates are even higher when one incorporates the discouraged, those millions of people that have given up hope and are not searching for jobs any more. The ranks of people doing temporary and part time work have also increased dramatically.
In the developing world, underemployment, casual work and vulnerable employment remain widespread, and hard-earned progress in the fight against poverty is at stake. At the ILO, we estimate that one out of three workers in the world is living with their families below the US$2 a day poverty line.
This dramatic situation is made more difficult by uncertain perspectives for global economic growth. Projections for the next few years are pretty flat and we all know that employment recovery lags a few years behind economic pick-up. Moreover, a series of demographic and technological trends, which I will illustrate in my presentation later today, are adding structural pressures on labour markets.
In short, there should be no doubt in our minds that when the world leaders will meet in 2015 to set a new agenda for global action, the question of jobs and growth will be very much at the center of their attention. Hence the importance of the discussion we are launching today.
I would like to thank the Japanese Government for their support and commend their vision and leadership in giving priority to this topic as a theme of the first meeting in the whole post 2015 programme of consultations.
The meeting is an outcome of close and productive cooperation between UNDP, UNCTAD and the ILO, with the important contribution of participants from UNICEF, the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and others. Interagency cooperation - I assure you - is not easy. We act under the straitjacket of bureaucratic boundaries, but such collaboration is certainly bound to grow and I am sure will characterize much of development assistance in the future. So - as I said before – we are indeed starting on the right foot.
I would like to briefly share with you some of the expectations that we have at the ILO about the way to 2015.
The Millennium Development Goals provided a major global framework for concerted development action. Undoubtedly, they strengthened advocacy for poverty alleviation and human development, improving coordination and focus on assistance. They introduced a format of simple targets and goals that helped monitoring and accountability. I should recall that, although a bit late in the game, a set of indicators for employment and decent
work was included under MDG 1 Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger under overall target 1b on “Achieving full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people”. As we look to the next phase, the challenge is to build on success and learn from experience in order to go beyond 2015.