ILO Director-General Guy Ryder’s Remarks at G7 Employment and Development Ministers’ Meeting

Roundtable 2: Taking on shared responsibility: Vision Zero Fund and capacity development for producing countries

Statement | Berlin | 12 October 2015
Thank you very much, Minister. Let me begin by echoing what has already been said by our colleagues in expressing condolences and solidarity with the government and people of Turkey.

Minister, in Schloss Elmau, the G7 Leaders set us a challenge when they expressed their political will and required us to engage in follow-up, and that is what we have to do this afternoon. I think a most practical way we can move forward around the issues we’ve been discussing here lies precisely in getting the Vision Zero Fund off the ground to the best of our efforts.

In addition to the language in the G7 text before us, you have an Annex which is a summary of the programmatic document for this new Fund. All of this reflects the efforts invested by the German Presidency, and our great thanks are due to Ministers Nahles and Müller and to all of our G7 partners for taking this forward.

On behalf of the ILO, I want to express appreciation for the confidence and trust that you have invested in us in asking the ILO to undertake the administration and implementation of the Fund. With that trust comes a great responsibility and we will do our very best to measure up to that responsibility.

Colleagues, the importance of action to reduce occupational safety and health hazards was made brutally clear to us all by what happened at Rana Plaza in April 2013. The risks always existed – but it took that tragedy to wake us up and show the need for action.

What I’ve been struck by in the conversation is the tendency to focus on one country and on one sector, the ready-made garments sector. But let’s not forget that there are very many countries and many sectors involved in global supply chains, and we must keep all of them in mind.

The Vision Zero Fund will add to our capacity to build safe working regimes in many low income developing countries that need our support because they need to build up an export production base simultaneously with institutions to prevent workplace accidents. Their challenge is to get onto the ladder of industrial exporting because it is a vital element of the strategies for sustainable development which they do need. I would like to recall that among the Sustainable Development Goals in the 2030 Agenda of the UN are decent work for all, the promotion of industrialization, and sustainable production and consumption systems.

The Vision Zero Fund is innovative in several regards.

Firstly, it is a multilateral fund, initiated by G7 countries but open to all governments ready to contribute.

Secondly, it is a public private partnership also open to contributions from businesses.

Thirdly, it has a scheduled beginning - in January 2016, and we need to be “startklar” by then – but contributions will be welcome for as long as it is needed. We hope to have projects under the Fund operational as soon as possible, as the sooner we can do that we can demonstrate how effective it can be as a way of addressing urgent needs.

Fourthly, a feature of the Fund to underline is that we have tried to develop a “lite” governance structure which will enable contributors to the Fund to work in a transparent, cost-effective and flexible manner with representation of principal stakeholders, social partners and donors.

The objective is to increase collective public and private action aimed at fostering and enhancing hazard prevention activities in businesses operating in low income countries.

Colleagues, the focus is on prevention of workplace accidents and protection from work-related injuries and diseases in sectors operating in global supply chains, and the building of public sector programmes in countries linked to such global supply chains.

The method will be to support systematic and comprehensive approaches at sector level and, where it is appropriate, at national level as well. Activities aim to improve all businesses’ capacities to comply with social and environmental standards whether or not they are currently linked to global supply chains.

I want to underline that the ILO will ensure complementarity with our ongoing work on occupational safety and health, occupational injury insurance and other programmes such as Better Work which we are implementing with our colleagues of the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank.

We will also be discussing with least developed countries that embark on export-led industrialization their interest in the sort of activities the Fund is designed to facilitate. A key issue is expressed commitment by all relevant stakeholders including the government concerned and social partners to apply principles of relevant ILO standards on prevention, workplace safety and fundamental principles and rights at work, and to develop social dialogue in their implementation. And one lesson we draw from Bangladesh is that good social dialogue is a central condition for successful implementation.

So Ministers, this is a very exciting initiative. Our leaders have invested considerable political capital in making the Fund start, and we have to invest some capital of our own to get it going.

Thank you very much once again. And as I said you can rely on the ILO to play its part to the best of its capacities.