G20 Labour and Employment Ministers Meeting

ILO Director-General urges G20 to focus on a human-centred recovery after the pandemic

Speaking at the G20 Labour and Employment Ministers meeting in Catania, Italy, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder, emphasized the need to prevent long-term scarring of economies and societies and to shape an inclusive, sustainable and resilient response that truly leaves no one behind.

Statement | 22 June 2021
Thank you Minister Orlando for bringing us together for this most important ministerial meeting.

We are all aware of the devastating impact of the pandemic on our health, our lives, our societies, our economies. And it has had a cataclysmic impact on the world of work.

I would like to highlight three aspects.

Firstly, in 2020 we know that the equivalent of 161 million full time jobs were lost in the G20, and 255 million in the world as a whole;
  • the number of people in employment in the G20 has dropped to levels last registered in 2013;
  • Millions of enterprises remain under threat, particularly small and medium-sized ones;
  • And 108 million people worldwide have been pushed back into working poverty.
Taken as a whole, this represents a world of work crisis four times as severe as the one triggered by the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009.

Secondly, the crisis as we know has impacted some sectors and some groups much harder. In particular it has hit women and youth along with those in the informal economy hardest. These are the groups facing the most difficult situations today and the biggest risk of being left behind in the months and the years ahead.

So the pandemic has not only confronted us with the reality of the multiple and growing inequalities in our society. It has made those inequalities worse, and presents us with the danger of them being embedded more deeply in the future.

Thirdly, while there were some improvements in the third quarter of last year, the recovery since has been uneven and looks fragile.

Countries which enjoy the greatest access to vaccines, the most fiscal space and the highest levels of connectivity can look forward to getting back quite rapidly to pre-pandemic levels of GDP.

Within a couple of years employment too should be back where it was.

But the biggest concern and the biggest challenge is in developing countries, where limited access to vaccines, limited fiscal firepower and the digital divide will make the recovery even more difficult and unequal.


Unless deliberate action is taken, COVID-19 will make the world of work more unequal, more unjust, less resilient, less inclusive, and ultimately less sustainable.

But we can do things differently. The crisis has shown us that long-established policy-settings and work arrangements can be modified in ways that were previously unimaginable.

We have learned that we can handle technologies differently, allocate resources differently, and reassess social priorities and values.

Such as, for example, how we reward the frontline workers who have emerged as the heroes of this crisis.

Future of work outcomes are not pre-determined. It is for governments, employers and workers to make, and make with this simple reality in mind – that we must address the process of recovery.

Last week at the International Labour Conference governments, workers and employers from around the world adopted a Global Call to Action for a human-centred recovery.

It highlights the policies that are needed to shape a response to the pandemic that is inclusive, sustainable and resilient.

It constitutes a roadmap to prevent long-term scarring of economies and societies, and to ensure a recovery that truly leaves no one behind.

And it provides tangible evidence too of the value of involving employers and workers, represented here today by the B20 and L20, in the preparation and consolidation of human-centred recovery strategies that benefit all people, and that will be backed by action.

Chair, Ministers,

Let me conclude by saying that this terrible global crisis requires a global response. It is only with global cooperation and solidarity that we will build a better future of work, one based upon social justice and decent work for all.

And the Ministerial Declaration that you are adopting today – including renewed efforts for women and for youth, for safety in our workplaces, and for social protection - reaffirms the G20’s commitment to shaping a human-centred, inclusive, fair and sustainable future of work.

Thank you.