High-Level Political Forum

Achieving SDG Target 8.7 and Universal Social Protection in times of COVID-19

High-Level Political Forum virtual side event, showcasing Pathfinder Countries’ action, with a focus on social protection, towards achieving SDG Target 8.7 on eradicating forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking, and ending child labour in all its forms by 2025.

News | Virtual Event | 10 July 2020
Contact(s): UN WebTV
The Alliance 8.7 high-level side event, ‘Achieving SDG Target 8.7 and universal social protection in times of COVID-19’, convened 10 July 2020 at the margins of the United Nations’ High-Level Political Forum. The Pathfinder countries Fiji, Ethiopia, Costa Rica and Viet Nam shared their efforts towards enhancing social protection to combat child labour and forced labour during times of global health crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused devastating impact and worsened economic vulnerability, particularly for populations most in danger of falling into forced labour or child labour. The ILO Director-General, Mr. Guy Ryder, highlighted that the current crisis is a wake-up call to action to boost social protection systems, including floors. He commended the efforts of Alliance 8.7 Pathfinder countries to accelerate progress toward achieving SDG Target 8.7 by enhancing necessary legal frameworks, data collection, social dialogue, partnerships and innovating new ways forward.
The Director-General’s call for strengthened social protection systems were echoed by Alliance 8.7 Chair and representative of France, Ms. Anousheh Karver, who congratulated governments on their political will to increase social protections particularly in the realm of greater health care coverage and income protection. She also encouraged these temporary measures to be translated into universal social protection for all.

The Labour Ministries of Fiji, Ethiopia, Costa Rica and Viet Nam underscored the importance of maintaining current progress on ending child labour and forced labour, especially in the challenging socio-economic context of COVID-19. Various policy measures have been taken globally to ensure social protection coverage for the most vulnerable groups. During the crisis, Ethiopia has raised the minimum age of child employment, provided food banks, increased access to childcare and made efforts to reintegrate trafficked children into school – and social protection systems. Costa Rica has created alliances with local governments for technical assistance and made training programmes for children to prevent them from falling into child labour. Viet Nam highlighted their regional collaboration and their commitment to swift economic recovery. It was also important to ensure multi-stakeholder cooperation to address child labour, according to Fiji.

Over 1000 policymakers, worker and employer representatives, UN leaders and civil society representatives joined the meeting, highlighting the urgent need for social protection in all countries. A new social contract must be developed to build resilience through social protection, as highlighted by the ILO’s social partners. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) stressed that inclusive growth is key and took the opportunity to celebrate government champions, such as the Pathfinder leaders, for advancing universal social protection. The International Organisation of Employers (IOE) emphasized the need to scale up innovative approaches to tackle issues of informality as well as social protection systems in the aim of addressing and responding to specific needs. As the world is undergoing a socio-economic challenge of unprecedented scale, extending social protection systems can ensure a more sustainable and inclusive recovery, alleviating inequalities and contributing to the elimination of child - and forced labour.