ILO, UN DESA, IFAD, FAO launch joint initiatives to “unleash rural development through employment and decent work”

A meeting organized in November 2011 by the ILO, UN DESA, IFAD, FAO and attended by over 15 more agencies, NGOs, academia and media agreed on a set of concrete and practical joint initiatives at national and international levels to develop the potential of rural areas as engines of economic and social growth.

News | 05 January 2012
Contact(s): rural@ilo.org
A meeting organized in November 2011 by the four agencies and attended by over 15 more agencies, NGOs, academia and media agreed on a set of concrete and practical joint initiatives at national and international levels to develop the potential of rural areas as engines of economic and social growth.

The ILO and UN DESA, in cooperation with FAO and IFAD, organized a meeting to strengthen coordination and joint work among international and national actors for “unleashing rural development through employment and decent work”. Participants called for acknowledging this rural potential as a core element in national and international strategies for growth and development.

Participation was broad, including representatives from a dozen agencies, six NGOs, academia and the media. A few had to withdraw at last minute, but indicated keenness to be part of follow-up activities.

A variety of innovative methodologies, used by a professional facilitator from the ILO International Training Centre – Turin, allowed maximizing exchanges, achieving consensus on strategic approaches and priorities, and agreeing on specific joint initiatives.

The first half of the meeting consisted of presentations, group work and consensus-building on a set of core themes: “Opportunities and challenges for promoting rural development”; “Creating an enabling environment for investment, employment and decent work in rural areas”; “Giving a voice to rural stakeholders”; “Youth as engines of rural development”; “Promoting integrated approaches”; and “Reaching strategic decision-making”.

Convergence occurred around specific priority approaches, particularly:

  • seizing opportunities such as accrued interest in agriculture and rural areas, and emerging sectors and processes such as rural tourism, ITC, local energy production, agribusiness value chains, green activities;
  • building local capabilities (at the individual, enterprise and institutional level);
  • strengthening rural data;
  • disseminating good practice;
  • supporting entrepreneurship, particularly micro- and small enterprises, including cooperatives;
  • tackling still widespread decent work-related challenges that impede realization of rural potential;
  • appreciating, developing and using well the capacities of disadvantaged groups, particularly youth, women, disabled persons and indigenous populations;
  • giving disadvantaged groups and employers’ and workers’ organizations a “voice”, and a place in policy-making and projects;
  • using multi-dimensional, integrated approaches;
  • considering rural-urban linkages;
  • linking up knowledge building, technical cooperation, policy advice, media messages;
  • working in partnership, based on respective comparative advantages;
  • adopting a more positive/dynamic vision of rural areas and communities, so that investing in them is considered “good business” and working in them, attractive;
  • building tight links with the media to develop and convey a positive vision, and giving a voice to rural stakeholders;
  • partnering with key actors who can champion/drive rural development nationally and internationally;
  • prioritizing decent work-based rural development/transformation, into core national decision-making and international events; and
  • moving decisively from words to concrete (joint) action.

In the second half of the meeting, participants agreed on a set of priority topics for joint work:

  • Rural cooperative enterprises as engines of rural development, employment and decent work
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Rural data
  • Decent work in rural areas
  • Promoting rural youth in Africa
  • Media for rural development
  • Capabilities and productive capacities for rural transformation

For each they identified specific concrete initiatives to be undertaken over the coming year, established commitments and a division of labour.

For more information, see Report of Expert and Inter-agency Technical Meeting on Broadening Coherence and Collaboration for Rural Development through Employment and Decent Work