The 2030 agenda for sustainable development

Addis Financing for Development Conference prioritizes decent work

The Third International Conference on Financing for Development, held in Addis Ababa, concluded on 16 July with the adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda in which the central role of decent work and social protection in achieving the ambitious post-2015 development agenda, including the Sustainable Development Goals is acknowledged. The Action Agenda was formally endorsed by the General Assembly on 23 July.

Article | 5 août 2015
The first paragraph of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda , adopted at the Third Conference on Financing for Development (FfD), calls for advancing “…fully towards an equitable global economic system in which no country or person is left behind, enabling decent work and productive livelihoods for all, while preserving the planet for our children and future generations”. Recognizing that the Addis outcome provides a global framework for shaping development cooperation for the next 15 years, the outcome represents a significant shift in the thinking about development by linking on finance and resource mobilization to the promotion of decent work. While the two previous conferences at Monterrey and Doha made reference to employment, for the first time, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda prioritizes and mainstreams the Decent Work Agenda throughout the various sections of the outcome document.

Embracing the potential of the ILO's Decent Work Agenda

The commitments made at the conference embrace the potential of the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda to support poverty-reducing, inclusive and sustainable growth. The Addis Ababa Action Agenda recognizes that an enhanced global partnership is needed to strengthen international cooperation towards the achievement of the post-2015 development agenda. It identifies seven cross-cutting areas where synergies may be harnessed in order to contribute to progress on all of the other goals and targets. Two of the seven cross-cutting synergies relate directly to the Decent Work Agenda, including on social protection and generating decent work and promoting medium and small-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

Specifically, paragraph 12 commits to delivering social protection and essential public services for all and forging a new social compact with fiscally sustainable and nationally appropriate social protection systems including Social Protection Floors. Countries are encouraged to consider setting nationally appropriate spending targets in this regard. The Declaration recognizes the need for increased international support for of the extension of social protection to all and commits to addressing this gap by “exploring coherent funding modalities to mobilize additional resources, building on country-led experiences.”

Paragraph 16 commits to prioritize the generation of full and productive employment and decent work for all and promoting MSMEs. Towards this objective, leaders pledge to ensure decent work becomes a central objective of national development strategies and encourages full and equal participation in the formal labour market. They also agree to work with private actors and development banks to promote affordable and stable access to credit to MSMEs, encourage formalization and provide adequate skills development and training particularly for youth. National youth strategies will be promoted and governments commit to develop and operationalize by 2020 a global strategy for youth employment as well as implement the ILO Global Jobs Pact.
The outcome document also reiterates a strong commitment to protect labour rights in accordance with the labour standards of the ILO. In particular it stresses that business shall comply with ILO international labour standards. It underscores that priority be given to FDI projects that have the greatest potential for promoting decent work. It identifies the need to advance gender equality by ensuring decent work for women including equal pay for work of equal value. Trade is acknowledged as an important engine for promoting decent work. Member States also commit to protect migrants’ human rights and reduce recruitment costs. There is also a strong commitment to boost assistance in generating a broad range of disaggregated data.

The goal of decent work for all is one that requires the full range of policies working together coherently. Labour market and social policies are important but cannot realize full and productive employment alone."

Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General
The important references included in the Addis Ababa Action agenda relating to the world of work, underscore the importance of policy coherence in ensuring effective linkages between decent work, financing and development. During his address at the FfD Conference on Roundtable 2, ‘Ensuring policy coherence and an enabling environment at all levels for sustainable development’, the Director-General of the ILO, Mr. Guy Ryder, stated that “the goal of decent work for all is one that requires the full range of policies working together coherently. Labour market and social policies are important but cannot realize full and productive employment alone. Macro policies need to pull in the same direction. So do health, education, environmental, trade and financial policies, to name just a few.”

Also during the Conference, the ILO and the Government of Sweden co-hosted a high-level side event on ‘Financing Development through Decent Work’. The side event focused on full and productive employment and decent work for all as a primary source of resources for development by generating a virtuous cycle of income that boosts consumption, spurs demand and increases rates of savings to finance private and public investment. Mr. Stefan Lofven, Prime Minister of Sweden delivered a keynote address at the event where he called for a new global partnership centered on decent work, or a new ‘Global Deal’, to ensure benefits of globalization were shared by all. He stated that the core of this partnership must rest on the vision of shared responsibility, where joint solutions were developed by governments, employers and trade unions. The event also featured perspectives from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the International Organisation of Employers (IOE), who represent the voice of the ILO social partners as well as government representatives from key partner countries of Belgium, Brazil and South Africa.

As we move from debate and discussion to implementation, the ILO is uniquely placed given its tripartite membership to maximize its role in the new partnerships that must drive the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the post-2015 sustainable development agenda. The Global Jobs Pact can be utilized to develop a more systematic approach for job creation at the national level which in turn can help mobilize domestic resources, attract FDI and prioritize investments in favour of job creation and create the fiscal space to invest in decent work. Such investments would help reduce dependence on foreign borrowing and aid as important sources of investment and growth.