The End to Poverty Initiative

Promoting a multidimensional response through the world of work, labour markets, and social and employment protection to eradicate global poverty.

The End to Poverty Centenary Initiative is designed specifically as the vehicle to take forward the ILO’s work in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 2030 Agenda is universal and covers all aspects of sustainable development. It recognizes eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, as the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by world leaders at the UN Summit in September 2015, is the new global framework for integrated and balanced action across the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainability. The Decent Work Agenda is firmly embedded in its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This substantially strengthens our Organization’s ability, in partnership with the UN family, to pursue social justice through Decent Work for all. The ILO is leading or participating in a range of global multi-stakeholder partnerships to this effect.

In many ways, the 2030 Agenda echoes the ILO’s 1944 Declaration of Philadelphia which stated that “Poverty anywhere constitutes a danger to prosperity everywhere, the war against want requires to be carried on with unrelenting vigour with each nation, and by continuous and concerted international effort”. The warning and call for action from ILO’s constituents is as relevant and important today as it was 70 years ago.

Leveraging the ILO’s contribution to the multilateral system

The responsibilities, challenges and opportunities for the ILO in playing our full role in implementing the 2030 Agenda are described by the Director-General in his report to the 2016 International Labour Conference on an End to Poverty. They involve two interconnected actions: strengthening partnerships and striving for greater coherence within the multilateral system and integrating the 2030 Agenda, and its decent work components, into national policy strategies.

The ILO comes to the task of upgrading multilateral system coherence and delivery capacities with two distinct advantages. First, the 2030 Agenda reflects the understanding of the international community that decent work is both a means and an end in sustainable development; an understanding for which the ILO has worked for two decades. Second, and in parallel with this, the ILO has been a consistent and long-standing advocate for greater functional and substantive policy coherence in the international system. Our 2008 Social Justice for a Fair Globalization Declaration as well as the 2016 resolution in Advancing Social Justice through Decent Work encapsulates our responsibilities in this regard.

Supporting constituents’ ability to deliver on the 2030 Agenda

Cohesive nationally owned sustainable development strategies, supported by integrated national financing frameworks, will be at the heart of efforts to realize the Sustainable Development Goals. It will be critically important to ensure that decent work is as thoroughly present in these strategies as it is in the Agenda itself. The best guarantee of that will be for the Ministries of Labour, Employment and Social Affairs and the organizations of employers and workers to be centrally involved in the planning and implementation processes.

The ILO’s 2016-17 Programme and Budget already foresaw the importance of ILO action in support of our constituents’ role in implementing the 2030 Agenda. Its Policy Outcomes align well with the SDGs. This alignment has been taken a step further in the 2018-19 Programme and Budget with clear links to SDGs and priority targets. Similarly, the ILO’s Strategic Plan for 2018-21 recognizes the 2030 Agenda as an enabling environment for ILO’s strategic orientation. The End to Poverty Centenary Initiative will guide the ILO’s effort in support of the entire 2030 Agenda and all 17 Sustainable Development Goals with a particular focus on Sustainable Development Goal 8 – to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

Recent employment and social trends are disturbing and form the backcloth to equally worrying political trends that could damage the international cooperation so vital to ending poverty and realizing the SDGs. The 2030 Agenda offers the prospect of reversing these sombre trends. If implemented it would turn the tide back in the direction of global social justice by eradicating poverty and reducing gross inequality. It would provide a path to economic, social and environmental sustainability. As we reflect on the role of the ILO in its second century, the ILO means of action brought together by the End to Poverty Initiative can make a significant contribution to putting the world firmly on the path to social justice as a foundation for sustainable development.