ILO/Sida Partnership on Employment Technical brief No. 4

Delivering on SDG8 – Integrated pathways to economic transformation and inclusive labour markets

Sustainable Development Goal 8 (SDG8) calls for the promotion of sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. Delivering on this goal lies at the heart of the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030. It is central to achieving other goals, such as eradicating poverty, reducing inequalities, empowering women, and promoting quality education, health and wellbeing. Making headway with SDG8 is also necessary to lay down solid foundations for more resolute steps towards environmental sustainability. The task is complex. It hinges on a dynamic process of complementary and interconnected transformative changes in the economy and society, which can be hard to trigger and engineer. Despite pockets of achievement, progress on SDG8 has been slowing down in many areas of the world (ILO, 2019).

The Covid-19 public health emergency, with its dramatic economic and human costs, is making it even more urgent to accelerate progress in delivering SDG8. This brief synthesizes the findings of a series of studies of economic and labour market changes in a sample of 10 countries at different levels of development over the past 20 years. It illustrates the diversity of economic trajectories. It highlights economic gaps and labour market deficits that remained unaddressed. It reviews the main policy insights. It concludes by arguing that comprehensive and integrated national employment policies, centred on quality employment and inclusive labour markets, in accordance with local circumstances and priorities, could be a tool for fostering new types of economic transformation and supporting countries in a renewed drive towards achieving SDG8.