The Global Forum for a Human-centred Recovery, organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO), concluded with renewed commitments to push for a recovery that puts people first and tackles the dangerous inequalities exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.
The three-day Forum (22-24 February) brought together heads of State and Government, heads of international organizations and multilateral development banks, and employers’ and workers’ leaders from around the world to propose concrete actions to build back better and strengthen the level and coherence of the international community’s response to the social and economic fall-out of the pandemic.
Commitments to the objectives of a human-centred recovery were made by the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), International Monetary Fund (IMF), Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Asian Development Bank (ADB), European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, World Trade Organization (WTO), World Bank, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), UNICEF, African Development Bank (ADB), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN Special Envoy on Climate and Finance.
Similar support was expressed by the Heads of State or Government of Argentina, Belgium, Egypt, Germany, Indonesia, Jamaica, Mozambique, the Republic of Korea, Samoa, Senegal, Spain and Switzerland.
Speaking at the closing of the Forum, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder highlighted “the extreme vulnerabilities and indeed inequalities that exist in the world of work,” which, he said, were brought home by the pandemic, “sometimes in a very brutal, very cruel way.”
“We do have to take seriously this rebuilding of resilience in our economy, in the world. And that, I think, requires us to take these integrated approaches to policy making. It really does make little sense for each part of the international system to deal with its own particular mandate in isolation from all the others and this is, of course, the logic of policy coherence,” he said.
Thematic sessions during the Forum addressed the most pressing issues facing the world of work; inclusive growth and decent jobs, universal social protection, protecting workers and sustaining enterprises, and a just transition to carbon neutrality. It closed with a discussion on how to reach an inclusive, sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.
During the Forum many delegates referred to the inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic, described by UN Secretary-General António Guterres in his opening address as a “great divergence” between and within countries that threatens economic and employment recovery.
“Wealthy countries are investing a much higher percentage of their GDPs into recovery. While many low-income countries are trapped by spiralling debt and starved of resources – victims of a global financial system that puts profits before people – developing countries face a massive and enduring jobs deficit,” Guterres said.
A strong message from speakers throughout the Forum was the need for action and for the international community to work together in solidarity to build back better. Many delegates referred to the path laid out in the ILO’s Global Call to Action, the UN Secretary-General’s ‘common agenda’, and the ILO/UN Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection which calls for investment to create at least 400 million jobs and extend social protection to four billion women, men, and children currently without coverage.
Highlights of the multilateral policy coherence outcomes from the Global Forum included:
- A new partnership between the ILO and UNDP to develop a common roadmap for the Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection, and to launch and implement the joint Global Initiative on Fostering Pathways to Formality.
- A deepening of cooperation between WHO and ILO to strengthen the links between health sector and world of work institutions, aimed at better protecting workers from mental health risks and occupational injuries and diseases and preparing workplaces for health crises.
- A new framework agreement to be developed with the EBRD to strengthen cooperation on projects, and technical assistance in such areas as gender equality, a just transition and climate action for jobs.
- A new Memorandum of Understanding to be signed with the IsDB to support a human-centred recovery, which envisages cooperation in such areas as youth economic empowerment, gender equality, decent work in crisis settings, and fostering South-South Triangular Cooperation.
- A renewed commitment by the IMF to protect and prioritize social expenditure to fight a “dangerous divergence” in the recovery between countries.
- A strengthening of collaboration between the ADB and ILO to improve social protection system capacity and data harmonization, in support of the Bank’s climate change financing and coal-fired power station retirement activities.
- A deepening of cooperation between OECD and ILO on just transition and productivity growth.
- A strengthening of collaboration with the African Development Bank in the areas of skill development and youth employment.
- An extension of the collaboration between the ILO and UNFCCC to support countries in their just transition planning.
- A deepening of engagement by UNICEF, to partner with the ILO and wider UN family, in order to ensure progress in the achievement of universal social protection.
- A strong commitment by the World Bank to the Global Partnership for Universal Social Protection to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (USP2030), chaired jointly with the ILO.
- Strong expressions of support for the Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection for a Just Transition by a wide range of countries and institutions.