A compass to orient the World of Work

ILO and CCDP present results of their on-going research collaboration

News | 23 November 2015
How can practitioners from the world of work make sense of fragility from the perspective of employment and decent work activities?

In the realm of the 2015 Geneva Peace Week, on 19 November the ILO and the Geneva Graduate Institute´s Centre for Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding (CCDP) held an event entitled “A Fragility Compass to Orient Employment and Decent Work Projects” to explore this question, featuring Habib Ur Rehman Mayar, Deputy General Secretary of the g7+ secretariat and Tine Staermose, Special Adviser on Labour Market Institutions and Governance, Office of the Deputy Director-General for Policy of the ILO.

This event marked the conclusion of a year-long collaborative reflection process between the ILO and the CCDP that lasted from August 2014 to September 2015. The overall aim was to stimulate constructive debate and knowledge exchange over the role and activities of the “world of work” in so-called “fragile” settings.

Oliver Jütersonke, Head of Research at the CCDP, presented the outcomes of the research project: (1) a diagram that illustrates the risk drivers of fragility, (2) the Fragility Compass, an analytical model that allows practitioners from the world of work to orient themselves in fragile settings, and (3) the Fragility Parameters, a brainstorming aid to map employment and decent work activities in fragile settings according to “rights to work” and “rights at work” approaches. Mr Jütersonke emphasized that rather than a linear process, where countries can graduate out of a fragile status, “fragility is a cyclical process” that often involves recurring episodes of amelioration and exacerbation. The ILO-CCDP research therefore focuses on multiple entry points for intervention in fragile settings to bridge the gap between short and long term solutions

This was followed by a panel discussion to assess the analytical and practical merit of the models, moderated by Donato Kiniger-Passigli, Fragile States and Disaster Response Coordinator of the ILO.

According to Habib Ur Rehman Mayar “a focus on employment and decent work can help break out of fragility cycles.” Mr Mayar stressed that in the vision of the g7+ group, “fragility is not only made up of hidden rocks and shallow waters, but also of fertile soils”. A lot of impact can be achieved through small activities. Yet, due to the cyclical nature of fragility, donors need to understand that engaging with fragile states is a long term commitment. Participation and national ownership in designing the interventions are imperative to achieve positive results. He therefore embraced the idea of the Fragility Compass as a springboard for out-of-the-box thinking.

Echoing these ideas, Ms Staermose emphasised that the engagement with local constituents is key for the ILO and in the spirit of the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States. She highlighted the importance of collaborating with national and international stakeholders to pave the way towards an integrated and long term policy framework which includes among others, the collection and analysis of labour market information as well as the development of national employment strategies. There is an “urgent need to properly understand where the jobs should come from (in fragile settings)”. The Fragility Compass provides us with a model that visualise the multiple dimensions of fragility and can be used as a brainstorming aid together with national and international partners. In combination with operational tools, such as the United Nations Policy for post-conflict employment creation, income generation and reintegration, employment and decent work programming could be better adapted to country specific contexts.

Ultimately, the discussants welcomed the Fragility Compass as an opportunity to reflect upon the complexity of employment and decent work activities and expressed their hope that the ILO-CCDP research will contribute to a clearer understanding of how to bridge the gap from humanitarian to development actors engaged in fragile settings.

The 2015 Geneva Peace Week was held from 16 to 20 November under the patronage of the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) and the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform. By synchronizing meetings on different topics related to the promotion of peace during one week, the Geneva Peace Week seeks to maximize synergies between organizations in Geneva, focused on the cross-cutting nature of peace.