Launch of the Green Jobs Programme and the Rural Youth Employment and Food Security

Statement | 12 December 2013
  • The Honourable Minister of Labour and Social Security,
  • Government Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and Senior Government Officials here present,
  • The Acting Resident Coordinator United Nations,
  • The Heads of United Nations Agencies here present,
  • The President of Zambia Federation of Employers,
  • The President of Zambia Congress of Trade Unions,
  • The President of Federation of Free Trade Unions of Zambia,
  • The Ambassador of Finland,
  • The Ambassador of Sweden,
  • Diplomats and Foreign Policy Officers here present,
  • Captains of Industry Building Construction and Agriculture, Directors and Executives of Private Sector Companies and their Associations here present,
  • Invited Guests,
  • Ladies and Gentlemen,
Zambia is recognized as one of the top 10 fastest growing economies in Africa, with a sustained economic growth averaging 7% and a falling inflation of about 7.1% according to statistics from the Ministry of Finance. Copper production has trebled since year 2000. The economy has benefitted from high levels of foreign direct investment and rapid growth in non-traditional exports, with countries such as Brazil, China, India, and South Africa, among the biggest trading partners.

However, these development gains have not benefitted all Zambians since poverty is still high (60.5%, 2010 CSO) and especially in rural areas (77.9%, 2010 CSO). Income distribution is unequal as evidenced by Zambia’s income Gini co-efficient is 0.60 (2010). Formal sector employment has largely remained at 10% for many years with a marginal growth of less than 1% with the majority of workers sustaining their livelihoods in the informal economy largely driven by micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

I am therefore pleased to note that the Government of Zambia and its social partners have embarked on the revision of the Sixth National Development Plan (RSNDP) which makes a very clear strategic emphasis on inclusive and green growth, creation of decent jobs and rural development. In response to this a United Nations Development Framework (UNDAF) is in place and to contribute to this, yesterday I witnessed the launch of the second Zambia Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP).

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good policy frameworks and programmes are only as good as they are implemented. I am excited to be part of the launch of the Zambia Green Jobs Programme and that on Rural Youth Employment and Food Security.

The Zambia Green Jobs Programme is promoting (1) more and better jobs for inclusive growth; (2) creating and extending social protection floors and (3) improving productivity and working conditions among MSMEs to grow and create decent green jobs - jobs in which rights, social dialogue and social protection are embedded and goods and services are produced with an environment benefit for sustainable development.

Specifically the Zambia Green Jobs Programme will create 5,000 new green jobs by 2017 through strengthening enterprise competitiveness and promoting sustainable business among Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) along the building construction value chain in Zambia. In addition the Programme will improve the quality of 2,000 existing jobs by enhancing productivity and working conditions in building construction MSMEs as well as deepening and extending social protection floors.

This Programming is promoting a just transition to the green economy to promote sustainable development in Zambia. This calls for social dialogue and tripartite participation, and places upon us the conviction to ensure social inclusion, principles and rights at work are upheld. Guided by the ILC 2013 recommendations of the Committee on Sustainable Development, Decent Work and Green Jobs, the ILO agenda for Green Jobs calls for a socially fair transition, in which vulnerabilities, changes in the labour market and new business models and opportunities are addressed through an inclusive social dialogue. Our actions as ILO are consistent and drawn upon the ILO Decent Work Agenda and the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization.

I would like to recognize and thank the Government of Zambia, Government of Finland and the United Nations in Zambia for partnering with us on this wonderful initiative. We are hopeful that the Zambia Green Jobs Programme will demonstrate potential and development model for investing in the green economy in Zambia as a source of economic renewal and potential job creation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Last year, the resolution and conclusions of the 101st Session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva made an urgent Global Call to Action on the Youth Employment Crisis. Jobs and skills for youth is today the priority of all priorities. With 10 million young people entering the labour market each year according to recent reports, countries in Sub-Saharan Africa face an urgent need to create quality jobs that guarantee the necessary income and material independence for workers and their families. A new sustainable development model, supported by a comprehensive policy approach and action, is needed. The approach must recognize the country-specific and sector-specific challenges while ensuring that opportunities for decent work and social inclusion are achieved.

The Rural Youth Employment Programme will not only promote jobs and skills for youth but will also facilitate decent work in the rural economy in line with the revised sixth national development plan.

Specifically, the Programme supports the Zambian Government’s National Agriculture Investment Plan, National Action Plan for Youth Employment and Empowerment and the Rural Industrialization Strategy seeking to unlock youth employment opportunities along agricultural value chains and foster food and nutritional security among rural communities. It will facilitate creation of at least 3,000 new decent jobs for young people, improve the financial performance of at least 5,000 youth owned-managed rural enterprises while boosting food and nutritional security for the local populations.

Once again let me thank the Government of Zambia, Government of Sweden and the United Nations in Zambia for the timely Rural Youth Employment and Food Security Programme.

With these words and at this point, it gives me great honour to launch both the Green Jobs Programme, and the Rural Youth Employment and Food Security Programme for Zambia.

I thank you