Informal economy

Informal sectors of Fiji, Palau, Tonga and Vanuatu key to COVID-19 economic recovery

Press release | Nadi, Fiji | 26 February 2021
Nadi, Fiji (ILO News) – “With Fiji entering the second year of a COVID-19-altered world, the outlook for its tourism industry remains bleak. Personal income and employment continue to be a serious priority for the International Labour Organization (ILO), with more than 66.2% of Fijian workers now expected to be working in the informal employment sector.” These were the words of ILO Project Coordinator, Edward Bernard today, as he wrapped up a week-long series of workshops in Nadi, targeted at the creative and agriculture sectors.
Workshop participants
Group discussions

As the informal sector continues to swell due to job losses and reduced working hours, the United Nations has embarked on a project aimed at supporting economic recovery through strengthening the long-term sustainability of businesses in the informal sector of Fiji, Palau, Tonga and Vanuatu.

Informal employment is usually characterized by a lack of structure, including non-regular working hours and a lack of access to secure benefits, welfare protection or representation. However, as it accounts for more than half of all jobs in Fiji, Palau, Tonga and Vanuatu, it has quickly been identified as a key driver for economic recovery across the Pacific region in the post-COVID19 era.

A joint initiative between the ILO, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the new UN project convened a series of meetings this week that brought together Key Business Development Service Providers including the Fiji National Provident Fund, Vodafone, Ministry of Commerce, Tourism, Trade and Transport, as well as informal sector farmers and creative artist associations such as the Fiji Arts Council and Pacific Islands Farmers Network.

“The focus of this week has been on informing the development of innovative national services,” said Mr. Bernard. “We want to make business development services as accessible as possible to informal sector micro enterprises; particularly those made vulnerable by COVID-19 in the creative and agriculture sectors. This is an important step in creating financial stability, amongst this fast-growing segment of society, thereby fueling a swifter economic recovery”

In the course of the next few months, three specific types of services will be tailored for and delivered to affected micro enterprises, including business training, business advisory services and business mentoring.

This initiative is implemented in the context of a joint project entitled “Inclusive Economic Recovery through Sustainable Enterprises in the Informal Economies of Fiji, Palau, Tonga and Vanuatu”, and funded by the UN Secretary General’s Multi Partner Trust Fund (MPTF) for COVID-19 recovery.

About the ILO: The only tripartite United Nations agency, since 1919 the ILO brings together governments, employers and workers of 187 member States , to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men.

About UNESCO: UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It seeks to build peace through international cooperation in Education, the Sciences and Culture. UNESCO's programmes contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals defined in Agenda 2030, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015.

About UNDP: UNDP is the leading United Nations organization fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and planet.

About IFAD: The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is a specialized agency of the United Nations, dedicated to eradicating poverty and hunger in developing countries. It works in remote rural areas of the world to help countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Through low-interest loans and grants, IFAD develops and finances projects that enable rural poor people to overcome poverty themselves.

For more information, please contact:
Peter Blumel
Snr. Communications Officer
ILO Office for Pacific Island Countries
+679 9906560

Sanya Ruggiero
ILO Communications Consultant
ILO Office for Pacific Island Countries
+679 8666 445