Post 2015 Sustainable Development Agenda

Inclusive growth and decent work proposed for new development goals

The UN is one step closer to agreeing on a new set of development objectives, including ambitious targets on full employment and decent work for the world’s seven billion people.

News | 21 July 2014
NEW YORK - The United Nations is one step closer to agreeing on a new set of development objectives that will succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). After sixteen months of deliberations, the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals adopted by acclamation a set of 17 proposed goals that will be submitted to the General Assembly in September, and will jump start the final phase of negotiations before the adoption a new UN development agenda in 2015.

The proposal calls for a transformative goal to “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.” According to Ms. Jane Stewart, ILO Special Representative to the UN, “It makes good sense to combine decent work and inclusive growth into one goal–to be inclusive and sustainable, economic growth must create decent jobs.”

The ILO estimates that around 670 million jobs need to be created over the next 15 years to keep up with the growth of the labour force and contain the spread of unemployment. Implementation of the ILO’s progressive Global Jobs Pact was cited as a way to meet this challenge and realize other, related targets outlined in the document.

In order to achieve the goal of decent work for all, the OWG proposed several ambitious and time-bounded targets to be accomplished by 2030. In particular, it called upon the international community to, “by 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value.” To achieve this target, significant efforts will be needed to reduce large numbers of the working poor, to increase employment rates for women, youth and people with disabilities, to promote formalization and close the gender pay gap.

Special emphasis was also given to youth. The OWG called for bold action to substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training and to increase the number of youth and adults with skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship. To address these needs in particular, the OWG suggested a global strategy for youth employment be developed and implemented by 2020.

The report also proposed a target on the eradication of forced labour and on the end of child labour in all its forms by 2025. According to the ILO, there are still 168 million child labourers globally and 21 million victims of forced labour. The ILO says that efforts will need to be redoubled in order to meet the proposed deadlines.

The protection of labour rights and the promotion of safe and secure working environments for all workers were also among the core targets proposed by the OWG. Every year, on-the-job accidents and illnesses take some two million lives, and cost the global economy an estimated four per cent of global GDP—equivalent to around 1.25 trillion US dollars. Safer workplaces and respect for labour rights are a fundamental step towards increasing global output and productivity and boosting inclusive growth.

Finally, the OWG also called for the implementation of nationally-appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including social protection floors, as a crucial and transformative target within the overarching goals related to poverty eradication and the promotion of equality. According to the ILO, only 27 per cent of the global population has access to comprehensive social protection systems. ILO Recommendation 202 on National Floors of Social Protection is a widely-supported instrument to guide the implementation of this target outlined by the OWG to extend social protection for all.

Throughout the negotiations, the ILO has provided technical assistance to the member-state-driven process through the UN Technical Support Team, which regularly solicits technical inputs from relevant UN agencies. Deliberations on the UN’s post-2015 development agenda will continue until September 2015 when the UN General Assembly is expected to adopt a final version of the new development framework.


For more information, please contact:

Kevin Cassidy, Senior Communications and External Relations
ILO Office for the United Nations
Mobile: +1 646 707-2956