COVID-19 and the World of Work

Inclusive Economic Recovery through Sustainable Enterprises in the Informal Economies of Fiji, Palau, Tonga and Vanuatu

This ILO led UN joint project is a COVID-19 recovery project funded by UN Secretary General’s Multi Partner Trust Fund (MPTF). Targeting informal sector enterprises and workers in the creative industries and the agriculture sector, the project is implemented jointly by the International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).


This ILO led UN joint project is a COVID-19 recovery project funded by UN Secretary General’s Multi Partner Trust Fund (MPTF). Targeting informal sector enterprises and workers in the creative industries and the agriculture sector, the project is implemented jointly by the International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Evidence from recent Rapid Assessments (RA) on the impact of COVID-19 on employment and business and the UN Social & Economic Impact Assessment (UNSEIA) of COVID-19 in the Pacific suggests, while acknowledging the existence of a large informal sector pre COVID-19, an increasing informal sector buldge. Redundant workers from the formal sector are transitioning to the informal sector in search for income. Informal sector enterprises, particularly those linked to the tourism industry and trade, including the creative industries and agriculture are experiencing many challenges to sustain their enterprises, not only as a result of the global pandemic but also recent and on-going regional/national disasters.

For those in the creative sector, effects have been widespread as a direct result of a highly impacted tourism sector, not likely to resume to its 2019 levels prior to 2022, in the most optimistic scenario. Meanwhile, the same SEIA has indicated the return of urban dwellers to rural areas. This trend has resulted in the increase of agricultural activities, which has in turn contributed to increased resilience of vulnerable populations during the pandemic, offering a diversified livelihood strategy and meaningful coping strategy, as well as the region’s gradual reduction in dependency on imported products.

The 13 month projects starting October 2020 and ending November 2021 aims to deliver the following:

Immediate objective 1: Improved employment and business environment in the informal sector through sustainable businesses, access to social security and organising.
Immediate objective 2: Improve productivity and spur innovation in the creative and agricultural sectors.
Immediate objective 3: Monitor, document and evaluate progress, share lessons learned and contribute to recovery policy development and review.

The ILO is responsible for Immediate objective 1 and the delivery of the following outputs:

(a) Capacities of BDS providers to deliver innovative and relevant support to informal sector women and youth led creative-prenures and agri-prenures strengthened
(b) COVID-19 and disaster resilient incubator and accelerator programmes targeting informal sector women and youth led creative-prenures and agri-prenures launched.
(c) Digital platform for ease of social security access for informal sector workers and women and youth led creative-prenures and agri-prenures established.
(d) Representative informal sector workers and women and youth led creative-prenures and agri-prenures groups with links to national workers and employer organisations established.

For further information, contact:

Edward Bernard
Project Coordinator

Milika Aisake
Project Assistant