Setting the development agenda beyond 2015
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Setting the development agenda beyond 2015

Growth, employment and structural change

The consultation held in Tokyo, 15-16 May 2012, aimed to stimulate discussions amongst multi-stakeholder experts on issues relating to growth, structural change, productive capacities, and employment, as they relate to both the MDGs and any framework that may come after 2015.


The meeting was the first in a series of global consultations aimed at fostering dialogue amongst multi-stakeholder experts on issues relating to growth, structural change, productive capacities, and employment, as these issues are likely to bear an impact both on the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the post-2015 development agenda. The meeting held 15-16 May 2012 at the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) was supported by the Japanese Government and organized jointly by the United Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Recognizing employment as one of the main means to achieve a sustainable development path on the way to Rio+20, the Post-2015 agenda needs a policy rethink to reverse the current employment trends. This consultation is an attempt to shed light on the prospects for employment creation within new patterns in growth and structure of the global economy.

Since 2000, the MDGs have played an important role in global cooperation for development. But the global landscape has shifted: global crises of the past years, un- and underemployment, climate change, have now become the main concerns of billions of people worldwide. Global unemployment is estimated to be nearly 200 million in 2012 and is projected to grow further. Each year 45 million young women and men enter the labour market. Jobs need to be created. Decent jobs, green jobs.

At the same time, economies are facing a number of major structural shifts including the need to move to low-carbon bases. Technological developments that are labour-saving in nature are widening the gap between low-skilled and high-skilled people. Developing economies face the need make a structural shift away from primary production to industry and services.

It is now globally recognized that growth alone is not a sufficient condition for employment generation, despite it being a necessary condition. Also, the structural changes the world economy is undergoing do not seem to be conducive to employment creation. These two factors explain the employment crisis and the subsequent inequity, exclusion and unsustainable human development. Beyond inequity in income distribution, the labour market, mainly in the developing economies, is closely related to exclusion. Hence, this series of thematic and national consultations is set to develop a new agenda that reflects the emerging challenges and the changing development model.

As discussions have already begun on the goals, indicators and targets that could build on and succeed the MDGs, this meeting offered key insights and inputs into a broader, open and inclusive intergovernmental process on options for a post-2015 development framework, which will be carried throughout 2015 and beyond.

Programme highlights

  1. Employment trends and jobs challenges
    Session 1, 15 May 2012, Tokyo

    200 million unemployed in 2011
    75 million youth unemployed
    One in three workers in the world lives under 2$ poverty line
    Half of Spanish and Greek young people are unemployed
    Under-employment, vulnerable and precarious work remain predominant features in developing countries

  1. Structural transformation and employment
    Session 2, 15 May 2012, Tokyo

    As inequalities (income, gender, location, age) are on the rise in all countries – low and middle income, as well as developed – structural transformation is ongoing in the global economy from agriculture to industry and services, but also, in terms of employment: rural to urban, low to high productivity, informal to formal.

  1. 2015: What next?
    Closing session, 16 May 2012, Tokyo

    The new development agenda must reflect a closer coordination of enabling policies at global, regional and national levels, striking a better balance between economic and social measures, grounded in the respect of rights, social justice and equity. Shifts will be made in the way we experience work: there’ll be winners and losers at the job market in the transition to a green economy, as some sectors will create jobs, some will disappear and many will transform.

  1. Employment, equity and human development
    Session 3, 15 May 2012, Tokyo

    The current composition and patterns of growth are associated with unsustainable levels of unemployment.

Video highlights

  1. Post-2015 Development Agenda

    The new development agenda should not be just another list of goals. Indicators used will need to take advantage of increased availability of data, as well as new technologies facilitating rapid tracking of progress and assessment of gaps. The new framework should enable policy action and should benefit from genuine participation of people – representing governments, civil society, social movements, workers, private sector – in both its tailoring and implementation, so that it is informed by reality.

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