The Thematic Event on Employment and Inclusive Growth in the Post-2015 Development Agenda took place on 14 June 2013 in New York, US. The meeting was part of the consultation on growth and employment, one of 11 global thematic consultations initiated by the UN in preparation for the post-2015 development agenda. Led by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the overall consultation has focused on four specific areas: sustainability and growth; development-led globalization; growth, diversification and structural change; and jobs and livelihoods.
The meeting brought together over 85 participants, who considered: the main outcomes of the post-2015 global thematic consultations on growth and employment; pathways to setting targets and measuring progress; and the renewal of a global partnership for inclusive growth. Participants also provided substantive recommendations on how the post-2015 development agenda can deliver inclusive growth, decent work, social protection and productive employment for all.
This report summarizes the presentations and discussions during the meeting.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA PROCESS
At the High-level Plenary Meeting of the 65th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) held in New York in September 2010, governments called for accelerating progress towards achieving the MDGs, and also for thinking on ways to advance the UN development agenda beyond 2015. In response, the UN undertook several initiatives aimed at developing a post-2015 development agenda, including: setting up a UN System Task Team (UNTT) on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda; launching a High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda; appointing a Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning; and launching national and global thematic consultations.
In addition to the above, other processes that will feed into the post-2015 discussions include: the work of the UN General Assembly’s Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); regional consultations by the Regional Economic Commissions, which will result in a report on regional perspectives on the post-2015 development agenda; inputs from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, set up by the UN Secretary-General in August 2012 to support global problem solving in ten critical areas of sustainable development; and input from businesses and the private sector through the UN Global Compact.
In order to ensure coherence across these different work streams, an informal senior coordination group of four Assistant Secretary-Generals (ASGs) has been put in place, which includes the ASG for Economic Development at the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), the ASG for Development Policy at UNDP, the ASG for Policy and Programme at UN Women, and the Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning. A “One Secretariat” has also been established to facilitate coordination and coherence across the work streams.
UN System Task Team: The UNTT, which includes more than 60 UN entities and agencies, and other international organizations, was set up to assess ongoing efforts within the UN system, consult all relevant stakeholders and define a system-wide vision and roadmap to support deliberations on the post-2015 UN development agenda. UNTT presented its report, Realizing the Future We Want for All, in June 2012, calling for an integrated policy approach to ensure inclusive economic development, social progress and environmental sustainability, and a development agenda that responds to the public’s aspirations for a world free of want and fear. The report recommended that the post-2015 vision be built on the principles of human rights, equality and sustainability. The report will serve as a reference for additional broader and inclusive consultations on the post-2015 development agenda.
UNTT, which is co-chaired by DESA and UNDP, continues to provide technical support to the OWG on the SDGs. It also supported the multi-stakeholder consultations on a post-2015 global development agenda by providing analytical inputs, expertise and outreach.
High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda: The UN Secretary-General launched the High-Level Panel in June 2012 and appointed President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Indonesia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia, and Prime Minister David Cameron, United Kingdom, as co-chairs. It includes leaders from civil society, the private sector and governments. The Panel, which reported to the UN Secretary-General and is not an intergovernmental process, published its report, titled A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development, in May 2013. This report outlines the Panel’s vision and recommendations on a post-2015 global development agenda, and will feed into the Secretary-General’s report to Member States at the Special Event on MDGs in September 2013.
Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning: In June 2012, Amina J. Mohammed, Nigeria, was appointed as Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning to coordinate, on behalf of the Secretary-General, the process of developing and building consensus among Member States, UN actors and key external actors. Mohammed represents the Secretary-General in the post-2015 debate and advises him on related matters. She also served as ex-officio member on the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons.
National and Global Thematic Consultations: In 2012, the UN Development Group (UNDG) initiated national and global thematic consultations on the post-2015 development agenda, which were aimed at bringing together a broad range of stakeholders to review progress on the MDGs and discuss options for a new framework. The national consultations took place online and offline in more than 60 developing and developed countries, with national stakeholders providing inputs for a shared global vision of “The Future We Want.”
At the global level, UNDG initiated 11 multi-stakeholder thematic consultations on: inequalities; education; health; governance; conflict and fragility; growth and employment; environmental sustainability; hunger, nutrition and food security; population dynamics; energy; and water.
Each thematic consultation was co-convened by two or more UN agencies with support from governments, working together with representatives from civil society, the private sector and academia. The consultations, which sought online contributions on the “World We Want 2015” website, aimed to explore the role each theme could play in a new framework, the key issues and priorities within each theme, the different ways in which they can be best addressed, and the linkages among them. A high-level meeting was held for each thematic area to consider the results and recommendations of the consultations, and develop recommendations to inform the larger process.
In addition, UNDP, the UN Millennium Campaign, the Overseas Development Institute and the WorldWide Web Foundation developed and facilitated an options survey called “MY World” that allowed citizens to vote online and offline for issues that would make the most difference to their lives. This survey was aimed at gathering public opinions on development priorities.
Global Consultation on Growth and Employment and the Post-2015 Development Agenda: Global Consultation on Growth and Employment and the Post-2015 Development Agenda: The global thematic consultation on growth and employment, which is led by ILO and UNDP, has focused on four specific areas: sustainability and growth; development-led globalization; growth, diversification and structural change; and jobs and livelihoods. The consultation process included a high-level global expert meeting in May 2012, facilitated by the Government of Japan, briefings to UN Member States, social media outreach, blog posts, and e-discussions. UNDP and ILO also solicited inputs through an Advisory Group on Growth and Employment in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, comprised of representatives from UN bodies, and non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations. These inputs formed the basis for the draft report Growth and Employment in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: Key Messages from the Thematic Consultation, open for public comments at http://www.worldwewant2015.org/node/354929
REPORT ON THE THEMATIC EVENT ON EMPLOYMENT AND INCLUSIVE GROWTH IN THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA
WELCOME AND OPENING SESSION
The meeting opened on Friday, 14 June, with Tsuneo Nishida, Permanent Representative of Japan to the UN, welcoming participants. Noting the complexity of employment and inclusive growth issues, he stressed their transformative nature and highlighted the need for a broad range of perspectives when formulating goals, targets and indicators for the post-2015 development agenda. He emphasized that these goals, targets and indicators should be simple, clear and measurable, and stressed the need for inclusive growth, particularly for young people, women and marginalized groups.
Nishida further underscored the value of enhancing quality of employment, taking account of employment in informal sectors and rural areas, ensuring employment of women, establishing measures to prevent people from being left at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid, and addressing caregiver employment. He concluded by stressing the need to address the challenges of developing a post-2015 development framework that tackles growth and employment issues in a manner that is relevant to all countries.
Shamshad Akhtar, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), highlighted the challenges of conceptualizing inclusive growth and emphasized that it needs to be: rights-based; sustainable; able to lift people out of poverty; and focused on promoting equal opportunities. She also noted the need for a development strategy that promotes strong institutions and a conducive macro-economic policy mix.
Akhtar indicated that employment policies need to be country-specific, and that while advanced countries are facing cyclical unemployment, developing countries are encountering more structural challenges in the labor market, including: low labor market participation and employment disadvantages of women; large informal sectors; and unfavorable working conditions. She further emphasized the interdependence of growth, employment, poverty reduction and inequality, and stressed that: growth is necessary but insufficient for job creation; the quality of growth is as important as the rate or level of growth; and growth can only reduce poverty when it does not increase inequality.
Telma Viale, Special Representative to the UN and Director of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Office for the UN in New York, stressed the importance of the recommendations on growth and employment of the High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda (HLP), and the value of these issues to all people, particularly youth. Stating that a transformative agenda is needed, she said the creation of decent jobs is the best route out of poverty and urged the integration of sustainable development considerations into growth and employment policy decisions. Viale underlined the need for a just transition to a sustainable economy and a rights-based approach anchored on international labor standards.
Olav Kjørven, Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the Bureau for Development Policy at the UN Development Programme (UNDP), commended the global scale of the post-2015 development agenda conversation. He noted that the thematic consultation on employment showed that jobs are considered the most important means of sustained poverty reduction, indicating particular employment challenges for young people and women. With regards to policy implications, he highlighted that: policies must be adapted to country-specific circumstances; governments need to protect the rights of people, support economic activities that are conducive to job creation, and address market failures; and the international community needs to be strengthened in tackling global challenges such as addressing climate change and creating a global compact for development.
Kjørven further noted that while the thematic consultation mirrors the messages contained in the report of the HLP, three important differences relate to the consultation’s suggestions to: broaden the definition of economic transformation to also take account of countries’ levels of development when focusing on sustainable consumption and production; address the role of redistributive measures in reducing inequality; and focus on the multi-dimensionality of poverty reduction, using targets that not only address income levels, but also quality of employment.
POST-2015 GLOBAL THEMATIC CONSULTATIONS ON GROWTH AND EMPLOYMENT: MAIN OUTCOMES
During the second session on Friday morning, participants engaged in discussions on the outcomes of the global consultation on growth and employment. Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, The New School, moderated the session. She highlighted the value of the relevant outcomes of the HLP. She also described the power of targets in driving thinking and discourse, and the danger of marginalizing issues that are excluded from targets.
Aurelio Parisotto, ILO, described the importance of the consultation in securing people’s views on priorities, and bringing together and reviewing expert knowledge and approaches. He described the messages arising from the consultation, including the need for better quality jobs and challenges to stable growth. He noted calls for a shift in policies toward inclusive growth to ensure that the needs of youth, migrant workers, rural workers, and informal and female workers are addressed. Parisotto also warned of the dangers of narrow sectoral approaches and described the need for a shift in policy to mobilize assistance, develop infrastructures, develop small and medium enterprises, and address environment issues. He stressed that social protection issues should be addressed in order to enhance growth and tackle poverty through income redistribution and more inclusive and sustainable growth. He also called for better collection and use of statistics for the formulation of effective policies.
Selim Jahan, UNDP, presented the draft report on the growth and employment thematic consultation. He highlighted that the consultation addressed: supporting productive sectors, with a focus on those sectors that are most relevant for a country’s development; ensuring employment-focused macro-economic policies and national employment strategies; improving education and skills training; and reducing inequality and protecting the rights of working people.
Jahan further noted that the consultation also identified five areas of global policy actions: enhancing and consolidating the development gains from international trade; reducing the vulnerability and instability of the international financial system; creating a favorable environment for technology transfer and knowledge exchange; addressing migration and protecting the rights of migrant workers; and supplementing official development assistance (ODA) with other types of development finance.
Pierella Paci, World Bank, applauded the consistency of messages arising from the consultation and called for these to be translated effectively into the development agenda. She welcomed the shift in discourse to substantive policy issues and a focus on generating decent employment, and highlighted the vital role of the public sector in job creation and the need for indicators.
Alison Tate, International Trade Union Confederation, stressed the importance of decent work in developing a more socially-inclusive and economically-dynamic development model that helps eradicate poverty. She described the elements of decent work, such as social protection and inclusiveness, and called for a policy shift that integrates new policies at all levels and contains better coordination mechanisms. She said financing for universal social protection systems is achievable and underscored the need for a rights-based approach.
Martha Chen, Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing, discussed challenges relating to the size and composition of the informal economy. She emphasized that for self-employed people, labor laws have limited relevance and that sector-specific policies are more important. She suggested unpacking the concept of inclusive growth to include, among other things, agricultural policies and other policies such as inclusive urban employment.
Adam Greene, US Council for International Business and the International Organisation of Employers, noted that the post-2015 development agenda represents a shift from focusing on where to direct ODA to creating economic growth. Highlighting the continued relevance of the 2002 Monterrey Consensus, he emphasized the importance of national domestic growth policies and a conducive environment for enterprise development. Greene also stressed the need for accountable governance and addressing the challenges posed by the informal sector.
During the ensuing discussion, participants commented on: how the HLP addresses “fragile states” in relation to promoting employment; the importance of addressing sustainable development and the outcomes of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20); the need for international institutional reform to enable global policy coherence; the value of addressing the employment needs of older persons; the responsibility of the private sector to create decent jobs; the role of partnerships; and good governance.
PATHWAYS ON SETTING TARGETS AND MEASURING PROGRESS
On Friday afternoon, participants engaged in discussions on employment and growth targets and indicators. Degol Hailu, UNDP, moderated the session, emphasizing the need for: conceptual clarity; a focus on targets and indicators that were not included in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); and data availability and statistical capacity, especially in developing countries.
Stephen Pursey, ILO, observed that in the context of the post-2015 development agenda, employment is seen as central, rather than residual to development. He noted that while the movement of workers from low- to high-productivity jobs has been an important transformation in developing countries, labor incomes have not necessarily increased. Pursey discussed several indicators for achieving targets related to: improved livelihoods for vulnerable workers; increased availability of quality jobs; enhanced participation of women and youth in employment; and improved levels of social protection.
Pedro Martins, Overseas Development Institute, assessed the strengths and weaknesses of the employment and growth-related MDGs, and suggested indicators for the post-2015 framework. He urged focusing indicators on the quantity and quality of employment, and on access to productive employment, and proposed indicators including: fully-adjusted net national income growth; structural change contribution to Gross Domestic Product per capita growth; share of labor earnings in total income; share of wage employment in non-agricultural employment; subsistence worker rates; ratio between the 50th and 10th percentile of wages; share of youth employment as a percentage of youth population; share of youth employment in total employment; and ratio of adult-to-youth employment rates.
Sergei Soares, Institute of Applied Economic Research, emphasized the need for simplicity when devising indicators. He stressed that definitions of key concepts such as underemployment and informal employment differ widely across countries, and that more discussion is needed to arrive at consensus definitions.
Robert Johnston, DESA, retired, stressed that clear targets must be developed before creating indicators. He supported the use of simple indicators, but noted the difficulties in converting structural concepts into clear targets and indicators. He also called for harmonized standards for improved collaboration in, and funding for, executing labor force surveys.
Rizwanul Islam, independent expert, stressed the need for structural transformation together with economic growth, and for a focus on developing high-productivity sectors. He suggested indicators on: regular wage employment as a proportion of regular employment; regular wage employment in non-agricultural sectors; proportion of employment in manufacturing industries and growth in the number of manufacturing industries; and the rate of decline in unpaid family work. Islam added that simplicity in indicators is important, but that details must not be lost.
John Serieux, University of Manitoba, cautioned that care must be taken on how indicators are structured in order to ensure that they are viewed as important priorities and not as “noise”. He said goals should focus on growth and inclusive employment, and called for institutional targets addressing participation, social protection, and the work place environment. Serieux noted that countries must not be forced to take specific paths that are not the best for them.
In the ensuing discussion, participants addressed: indicators for unpaid and decent work; indicators related to rural and agricultural employment; the appropriateness of common goals for all countries; inequality as a stand-alone goal; the degree of disaggregation of measures; the content of labor force surveys; and the trade-off between simple and meaningful indicators.
A RENEWED GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP FOR INCLUSIVE GROWTH
Ambassador Yusra Khan, Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the UN, moderated the afternoon session on renewing partnerships for inclusive growth, outlining the need for an international development framework that allows for inclusive growth. He said: foreign aid is an important funding source for development; a new global framework for national policy choices and development paths is required; domestic policy space must be respected; fulfillment of ODA commitments must be ensured; and coherence of national and international policies must be sought.
Pingfan Hong, DESA, described developed country commitments to contribute 0.7% of their Gross National Incomes as ODA, the wavering levels of ODA implementation, conditions attached to ODA, and the growth in reliance on private sector financing flows. He said the Millennium Declaration and the Monterrey Consensus promised change, but these changes were crippled by the global financial crisis. Noting new opportunities for reform, he stressed the need to: redouble efforts to accelerate the MDGs; reverse the contraction of ODA flows; conclude the Doha Round of international trade negotiations; enhance the international architecture for debt restructuring; and increase developing countries’ access to medicine and new technologies. He further outlined the need for: increasing political will; using the MDGs as a starting point; taking account of changing global landscapes; ensuring flexible, dynamic and innovative global partnerships; addressing climate change; and strengthening governance.
Richard Kozul-Wright, UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), noted relevant topics discussed at the 13th session of UNCTAD, held on the theme, “development-centered globalization,” including: the role of international finance as a driver of globalization; challenges with a one-size-fits-all approach to development; and the role of policy in shaping globalization. He also discussed several challenges to using partnerships to underpin a transformative development agenda, including the remaining global asymmetries in economic power and the precarious economic situation of the emerging economies.
Sameer Dossani, ActionAid, reviewed the development of global partnerships, noting developed countries’ control of these relationships and the negative effects on wages and growth. He said disaggregated production chains and biased intellectual property rules favoring developed countries have resulted in increased wealth concentrations. He called for fairness, if partnerships are to work.
The ensuing discussion covered several topics, including: the regulation of the financial sector; the challenges and opportunities of South-South cooperation; the potential role of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) and a possible “BRICS bank”; the role of diasporas and remittances; and the implications of the rise of regionalism for global cooperation.
WRAP UP AND CLOSING REMARKS
Olav Kjørven and Stephen Pursey chaired the closing session. Summarizing the main points arising from the meeting, Kjørven said participants expressed the need for an ambitious employment goal supported by specific targets in the post-2015 development agenda. He discussed the need for flexibility and a focus on decent work with high social value, particularly for women, youth, older people, people with disabilities, and members of marginalized groups. He highlighted calls for addressing informal work issues, and for ensuring a transition towards decent jobs and integration of informal work into the formal sector so that all workers can enjoy legal protections and better opportunities.
Kjørven further emphasized that fragile states and countries emerging from conflicts need the capacity to support small enterprise and job creation programmes, in order to allow for a more stable social contract to emerge. He also noted the importance of quantitative targets, improved data collection and enhanced capacity for tracking progress. Regarding partnerships, Kjørven highlighted calls for overcoming inequalities, amending unfair tax systems, revitalizing ODA, reforming international trade and financing rules, and integrating sustainable development in growth and employment policies.
Pursey commented on some of the main topics discussed during the meeting, including: the framing of the discussion around the concept of transformation, highlighting that there is growing recognition that national and global transformations go hand-in-hand; the quantification of goals and the challenge to move beyond the aid-effectiveness focus of the MDGs; and the reframing of the partnerships framework.
The meeting closed at 5:28 pm.
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