BRICS Ministerial Meeting

ILO Director-General address to the BRICS on "Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future"

“It is after all a fundamental desire of people across the world, above all in this period of transformative change and sometimes of uncertainty, that they can look forward and contribute to a better future of work – one with social justice and prosperity and decent work for all,” says ILO Director-General Guy Ryder to the BRICS Labour and Employment Ministers’ Meeting.

Statement | Chongqing, China | 26 July 2017
Madame Vice-Minister Zhang Yizhen,
Executive Vice-Mayor of Chongqing Municipality Wu Cunrong,
Representatives of Employers’ and Workers’ Organizations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me begin by thanking you all for the invitation to the International Labour Organization to participate in this 3rd BRICS Labour and Employment Ministers’ Meeting in this extraordinary city of Chongqing.

The BRICS Group – as it approaches its 10th anniversary – has established itself as a key actor on the international stage and in many areas of policy-making. It is of the highest significance that labour and employment policy seems now to be firmly established as one of its priorities.

It was under the Presidency of the Government of Brazil that the Fortaleza Leaders’ Summit in 2014 gave the initial impulse to this track of work. Since then, Russia under the leadership of Minister Topilin who hosted the first Ministerial in Ufa in 2016, and then India under Minister Dattatreya who took the process forward last year, and now China thanks to Minister Yin Weimin have brought us to the very impressive level that has been reached today, here in Chongqing.

The ILO has been honoured and pleased to accompany its BRICS member States in this process. 48 per cent of the global population and 21 per cent of the world’s production is represented in this room, and every one of the world’s regions is present. These facts, combined with the political commitment of BRICS members to work together effectively in addressing key policy issues, call for strong support from the ILO and we will continue to do our best to provide it as long as you request.

That is a message I would like, in particular, to address this morning to Minister Oliphant of South Africa, which will assume the Presidency of the BRICS next year. I would recall that the Minister has already chaired the International Labour Conference in Geneva so we know the quality of leadership we can expect next year.

I want also to express particular appreciation for the role and the presence today of the BRICS social partners. They have been included from the outset in this process and their inputs are vital to the work we do and that we will continue to do together.

Minister, Dear Colleagues,

We are all aware of the major world of work challenges facing policy-makers around the world today. These challenges were evident in the work of the G20 this year in which you all took part.

The strategic positioning of the BRICS countries and their weight and dynamism in the global economy mean that you are all addressing these challenges globally and nationally. You face sometimes very different national circumstances, as the document before us on BRICS labour market trends highlights. But equally there are common issues to be confronted and a common purpose in confronting them. And that is why coordination and sharing of experience and good practice between you makes such obvious sense.

It is in this context that I want to congratulate you sincerely on the issues on your agenda here in Chongqing, and the results that you are pursuing.

It strikes me, Ladies and Gentlemen, that there is a strong alignment in these issues with two crucial global processes:
  • The first is the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. I would recall that the strong decent work for all content of that Agenda has led the ILO to design its own programme and budget for the implementation of that Agenda and its overarching aim of eliminating poverty, which has been a constitutional obligation of the ILO for nearly a century.
  • The second process is the ILO Centenary Initiative on the Future of Work. That Initiative is now moving forward from the first stage of national dialogues – there have been about 115 of them – to the second stage with the launching very soon of the high-level Global Commission on the Future of Work which will report to the centenary International Labour Conference in 2019.
Let me underline that at this crucial moment your discussion and your conclusions, in particular on the Governance of the Future of Work and on Poverty Alleviation and Reduction through Skills, acquire the greatest significance.

But it is equally necessary that your work contribute directly and concretely to the essential BRICS purpose of the sharing of experience and the promotion of cooperation between its member States, and that this produce tangible results.

And so, Ministers, the steps that you are taking to promote social security cooperation and to establish a network of labour research institutes are a very clear response to that imperative, and here too I want to assure you of all needed support from the ILO.

Ministers, dear Colleagues,

In all of these ways I am confident that this 3rd BRICS Labour and Employment Ministers’ Meeting will contribute effectively to strengthening a “Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future” and to the deliberations of the BRICS Leaders’ Summit in Xiamen in September.

It is after all a fundamental desire of people across the world, above all in this period of transformative change and sometimes of uncertainty, that they can look forward and contribute to a better future of work – one with social justice and prosperity and decent work for all.

I look forward to contributing and to continuing to work with the BRICS for this common goal.

Thank you.