Rural development

The world-wide goals of sustainable growth, jobs, poverty reduction and equitable development cannot be achieved unless directly tackled at the rural level. Rural areas hold considerable potential for high return activities and productive livelihoods. However they are often held back by scant investment and decent work deficits, particularly, high under- and unemployment among youth and women, widespread child labour, informality and poor working conditions, limited social and labour law coverage, and weak organization among employers and workers.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), environmental concerns, and the food security and economic crises now provide an additional sense of urgency to explicitly target rural revitalization, and to muster the needed political and economic will and resources.

The ILO can make important contributions to rural development by supporting governments, employers and workers promote productive employment and decent work. It can draw on a vast array of rural-relevant approaches and tools in core technical areas, long-time experience, and a network of external partnerships.
A look, in photos, at what the ILO is doing to connect women in rural areas with decent work.

Key resources

    1. Rural labour statistics

    1. Resource guide on Rural development

  1. International Labour Conference 2008

    Promotion of Rural Employment for Poverty Reduction

Policies & Tools

  1. Rural Policy Briefs

    Action-oriented, synthetic leaflets providing guidance to practitioners on how to drive job creation, poverty alleviation, crisis resilience and equitable development through rural growth.

  2. Rural-related Tools

    Descriptive leaflets on over 50 ready-to-use tools to stimulate employment and decent work in rural areas.


  1. Instructional material

    Toolkit on Poverty Reduction through Tourism in Rural Areas

    The toolkit outlines the background to poverty reduction approaches and how the ILO is involved within the context of decent work and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

ILO strategy

  1. ILO Governing body, March 2011

    Unleashing rural development through productive employment and decent work: Building on 40 years of ILO work in rural areas