Decent Work for Post-2015 agenda given boost by Group of Friends

The “Group of Friends on Decent Work for Sustainable Development” was launched by Angola and Belgium on behalf of 23 countries.

News | 29 September 2014
Twenty-three countries, from all regions and all levels of economic development, have launched an important new initiative to highlight the critical importance of including decent work for all in the UN’s ambitious development agenda beyond 2015.

As Heads of State and Governments gathered in New York for the opening of the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly, the “Group of Friends on Decent Work for Sustainable Development” was launched by Manuel Vicente, Vice President of Angola, and Jean-Pascal Labille, Minister of Development Cooperation of Belgium, on behalf of the founding members of the group.

The Group was launched at a high-level event, entitled "Employment and Decent Work for Inclusive and Sustainable Development", which was convened by the ILO and the Ford Foundation. The event brought together several Heads of State and Government, Ministers of development cooperation and employment, CEOs from business, trade union leaders, ambassadors, senior UN officials, foundations and other key partners.

The Group will mobilize and coordinate political and technical support to promote employment, social protection and decent work as top priorities in the forthcoming negotiations of the post-2015 development agenda.

Co-chaired by the Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives of Angola and Belgium to the UN in New York, the Group of Friends already includes the active participation of 23 countries, which includes Angola, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, European Union, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Palau, Romania and Tanzania. The group is working closely with other countries to increase membership and demonstrate the importance of employment in all national agendas.

In his statement to the assembled Heads of State, Vice-President Manuel Vicente stated that “Angola supports the inclusion of a transformative goal on decent work for all and inclusive growth which must be accompanied by meaningful and action-oriented targets.” The Belgium Minister for Development Cooperation, Jean-Pascal Labille explained that “our aim [of the Group of Friends] is to be the advocates of decent work and to build partnerships among like-minded countries from North and South.”

The Ambassadorial group will gather regularly over the coming months around major UN meetings such as the launch of the Secretary-General’s Synthesis Report on the Post 2015 Sustainable Development Agenda (December 2014), 53rd Commission for Social Development (CSocD) (February 2015) and the ECOSOC Integration Segment (May 2015).

The Group will also organize regular technical briefings and materials to inform the delegations about recent developments in particular in the areas of social protection, youth employment, workers’ rights and safe work, labour migration, the transition from informal to the formal economy, child and forced labour, skills for employment and full and productive employment and decent work for all.

Guy Ryder, the Director-General of the ILO, welcomed the establishment of the Group of Friends and said that the Office will stand ready to provide technical support to the Group and assist as requested in the intergovernmental negotiations on the Post 2015 Development Agenda.

As the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly opens, the Post-2015 development agenda will be the focus of attention throughout the year. One key outcome that will be widely debated is the UN Open Working Group’s report which has identified 17 sustainable development goals including one entitled “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all” which is being considered for inclusion into the new development agenda.

The ILO defines decent work as the sum of the aspirations of people in their working lives. It involves opportunities for work that is productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration, freedom for people to express their concerns, organize and participate in the decisions that affect their lives and equality of opportunity and treatment for all women and men.