ILO intervenes at the Fifth World Forum on Local Economic Development

The ILO Enterprises Department Director’s intervention focused on the future of work and the work of the future from a territorial perspective in the context of the crisis generated by COVID19.

News | 09 June 2021
The V World Forum on Local Economic Development (WFLED) was virtually held from May 26 to June 1, 2021 with the host of Córdoba, Argentina. The Vth WFLED aimed to address some of the most pressing issues related to local economic development (LED) and its potential to support the transition to a sustainable future. The International Labour Organization (ILO) is one of the organizing institutions of the event which analysed the role of territories in times of uncertainty.

The Director of ILO’s Enterprises Department Mr. Vic van Vuuren joined the event as a panel speaker at the plenary session on “The future of work and the work of the future from a territorial perspective in the context of crisis generated by covid-19” on May 31. This session was co-organized by Agency for Economic Development of the City of Córdoba (ADEC) and the ILO. The other panellists included: Alejandra Torres, Secretary of Planning, Modernization and International Relations of the Municipality of Córdoba; Pilar Díaz Romero, Mayor of Esplugues de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain; and Candelaria Gonzalez del Pino, the Secretary of Federal Management of Government of the Province of Santa Fe, Argentina. The session was moderated by Carlos Santiso, Director of Digital Innovation of the State of the Development Bank of Latin America.

The panel discussed the impact of the crisis on labour market and explored how to build back better from a territorial perspective. The panellists highlighted how the future of work raised much concern before COVID19, now its social and economic impact combined with the trends towards greater digitization and the transition to a green economy carries the risk of deepening inequalities and generating greater social instability.

They underlined that there is an urgent need for a new paradigm of production and consumption that implies a vision of development centred on people, integrating the social, economic and environmental aspects. They further noted that aiming to raise the level of social cohesion must be at the centre of policies to promote inclusive and sustainable development. Social cohesion, they underlined, is one of the basic hypotheses of local economic development, understood not only as better relationships between people, but also as a factor of productive efficiency and competitiveness of local productive systems in global markets. The territorial approach is in force today - more than ever - to promote a new normal that puts people's well-being at the centre of policies, they emphasized.

From a local management perspective, one statement from Ms. Alejandra Torres stood out. She noted that: “The pandemic, for the public administration, whatever the jurisdiction - be it national, provincial or municipal - constituted a fundamental milestone that puts an end to a traditional public management model to advance to a totally new and different model with responses more efficient for the citizen ”. She also added that “The municipality is the first front that a citizen demands (transportation, garbage collection, health care, adequate lighting, among others). How to face this process of transformation of the public sector? Córdoba has based the transformation process that began on December 10, 2019 on 3 key axes: the design of the processes must be based on listening to the citizen; the use of real-time data to guide problem solving; and the measurement of results to learn and improve continuously”.

In his presentation, Mr. van Vuuren talked about reactivation and reconstruction towards a more equal and sustainable economy in the context of COVID19. He called for a people and planet-centred recovery in local economic development. He mentioned that as the global economy faces a high degree of uncertainty and the risk that the recovery could be uneven, policies need to focus on social protection. He provided eight suggestions in building back better:
  1. Ensure a broad-based, job-rich recovery with decent work opportunities for all through integrated national employment policy responses, including supportive and stable macroeconomic and industrial policies as well as strengthened public and private investment in sectors hit hardest by the crisis, and those with strong potential to expand decent work opportunities;
  2. Support business continuity and an enabling environment for productivity growth and sustainable enterprises, recognizing the crucial role of the private sector in generating strong, sustainable and inclusive economic growth;
  3. Provide incentives to employers to retain workers despite crisis-related reduction of business activity;
  4. Prioritize action to support young workers and entrepreneurs, who are an indispensable source of dynamism, talent, creativity and innovation in the world of work and a driving force for shaping a brighter future of work;
  5. Strengthen public and private investment in lifelong learning;
  6. Leverage the opportunities of just digital and ecological transitions to advance decent work;
  7. Develop and implement comprehensive and integrated approaches to curb the spread of informality and accelerate the transition to the formal economy with due attention to the rural economy; and
  8. Recognize opportunities for job growth through the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) enterprises. The evidence shows that the SSE plays an important role in preserving employment as well as in creating new employment. One of the priorities of the UNTFSSE is precisely local economic development.
Mr. van Vuuren noted that the ILO has been promoting the LED approach to create decent jobs. The integration of the various dimensions of development (social, economic, cultural and environmental) should also be part of an LED strategy, he added. In fact, the objective of the LED approach is to raise the level of social cohesion, which is a factor of competitiveness in markets, as well as a value per se in terms of life quality”, he said.

View the event recording here.(The session starts at 2:44:00)