68th UN General Assembly

UN Member states call for emphasis on full employment and decent work in more equitable post-2015 development agenda

At the UNGA high level events on the MDGs and sustainable development, member states lauded the achievements made towards reducing poverty, but say too many still left behind.

News | 05 October 2013
The High-level Meetings of the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly have been marked by strong calls to put full employment and decent work for all at the core of the sustainable development agenda.

The first inaugural meeting of the High-Level Political Forum, held on 24 September 2013, was attended by presidents, prime ministers, and other high‐ranking officials, delivering on the commitment made at Rio+20 to continue to press for action on sustainable development at the highest levels.

In his opening remarks, the Prime Minister of Italy, Enrico Letta mentioned that the transition to a greener economy can be a way forward to "ensure sustained economic growth and create opportunities for employment and decent work for all, while reducing the pressures on the environment."

The President of Brazil, Dilma Roussef, emphasized the relevance of social protection programmes, such as the Brasil em Miseria in contributing to the overarching objective of eradicating extreme poverty. "For the first time in the history of the humanity, the complete and global eradication of extreme poverty is within our reach," she added.

©UN Photo/Rick Bajornas
ILO Director General Guy Ryder highlighted the "great potential for the generation of decent work opportunities, and thus poverty reduction, in the transformations needed to ensure our economies are environmentally sustainable. The key," he said, "is the design of policy frameworks that anticipate and prepare business and workers for change."

On 25 September 2013, the President of the UN General Assembly hosted a special event on the MDGs to follow up efforts made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals and to discuss the post 2015 development agenda.

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon used the occasion to officially launch his report A Life of Dignity for All, in which he points specifically to employment and social protection policies that promote inclusive growth and notes that "inclusive economic growth with decent employment and decent wages has proven to be a prerequisite for achieving the MDGs, particularly Goal 1 on eradicating extreme poverty and hunger." Rights-based social protection models, he notes, "are needed to promote equality of opportunity."

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder also spoke at the event, highlighting the important role that decent work and social protection policies can play in accelerating the MDGs and crafting a successor framework.

"One of the lessons from the drive to implement the MDGs," he said, "is that full and productive employment and decent work for all is both an objective and a means of achieving sustainable development with social inclusion and greater equity.”

"Being able to earn a decent living is everybody’s aspiration and the most effective strategy for escaping poverty and for making a meaningful contribution to the community," said Ryder. "Social protection floors that prevent people becoming trapped in poverty when unable to work are vital."

In presenting the report One Million Voices at a side event to the high-level meeting on 23 September, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark said that coming out of the global consultations, "the strong message was to include decent work as a core development objective in the new framework."

Throughout the High-level Meetings of the 68th General Assembly, the ILO sponsored in collaboration with various permanent missions a series of side events including The Jobs Challenge, Tackling Inequalities Beyond 2015 through Social Protection, Migrant Domestic Workers: Ensuring Human Rights and Making Decent Work a Reality, and Innovations in Labour Migration: Governance and Development Outcomes.

The 68th session of the General Assembly will continue into the months ahead, while additional preparations for the new framework will continue throughout the next year under the theme "The Post-2015 Development Agenda - Setting the Stage." They will culminate in a high-level summit to be held September 2015, at which member states will adopt an eventual post-2015 development agenda that will guide the activities of the international development community for decades to come.