OSLO – The heads of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Labour Organization (ILO), along with other leaders, today called for a broad international commitment to a jobs-focused policy response to the global economic downturn. At a historic conference in Oslo – hosted by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of Norway and co-sponsored by the IMF and ILO – leaders from government, labour, business and academia met to tackle the sharp increase in unemployment and underemployment since the 2008 global financial crisis.
“The international community must respond to the very real impact the crisis has had on working people,” said IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn. “This gathering has helped to define the steps that must be taken to bring millions back into the workforce. Tackling the jobs crisis is not only critical for a meaningful global economic recovery, but also for social cohesion and peace.”
“When growth is not fair, it becomes unsustainable,” said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia. “This has been the overriding lesson of the crisis. High levels of employment creation should be a key macroeconomic objective alongside low inflation and sustainable budgets. We need to steer globalization in the right direction. For that we need coherence and balance across policies, as well as coordination and dialogue among institutions and nations. This conference has marked an important step in that direction.”
The ILO estimates that unemployment is up by more than 30 million worldwide since 2007. The increase in unemployment in advanced economies has been particularly severe, but the crisis also has hit emerging market and developing economies.
The Oslo Conference brought together senior government leaders, including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia; Prime Minister George Papandreou of Greece; and Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero of Spain. A large delegation of labour leaders was led by International Trade Union Confederation General Secretary Sharan Burrow.
The IMF and ILO agreed at the conference to work together on policy development in two specific areas:
- First, they agreed to explore the concept of a social protection floor for people living in poverty and in vulnerable situations, within the context of a medium- to long-term framework of sustainable macroeconomic policies and strategies for development.
- Second, the two institutions will focus on policies to promote employment-creating growth.
There was also agreement on the central role that effective social dialogue can play in building the consensus needed to tackle the difficult adjustment challenges created by the crisis, and to ensure that the social consequences of crisis and its aftermath are taken fully into account.
The two institutions also agreed to continue and deepen their cooperation in support of the G20 and its Mutual Assessment Process aimed at ensuring strong, sustained and balanced global growth.
As part of this continuing collabouration, Mr. Strauss-Kahn accepted the invitation of Mr. Somavia to address the International Labour Conference in June 2011.
The Oslo Conference website is www.osloconference2010.org