As debate on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agenda gathers pace, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) says that the most pressing priorities are job creation and social protection, writes Linda Eroke
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has called for jobs and livelihoods to be at the heart of the development agenda after the target date for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) passes in 2015.
The United Nations Millennium Declaration was adopted in September 2000 at the largest ever gathering of heads of heads of States. The declaration was aimed at addressing the problem of poverty and promoting sustainable development among countries, thus committing countries both rich and poor to do all they can to eradicate poverty, promote human dignity and equality and achieve peace, democracy and environmental stability.
The goals include those dedicated to eradicating poverty, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development.
Full and productive employment and decent work was added to the original MDGs but only as a sub-target of the goal to halve poverty and hunger by 2015. But since the MDGs were adopted in 2000, many countries have moved further away from full employment because of the global financial and economic crisis.
Renewed Call for Decent Employment
However, the ILO explained that job creation should be at the centre of every country's development agenda, stating that job creation is the most pressing global development priority.
The ILO maintained that growth, however indispensable, can no longer be the key criterion for the world economy, stressing that jobs creation especially for youth, reducing poverty and informal work, as well as providing fair access to opportunities, should from now on also be criteria to measure macroeconomic success.
The international labour body observed that high unemployment and growing inequality have fueled social unrest around the world, said global concerns for jobs creation can bring the world economy out of the present crisis.
ILO Global Employment Trends for Youth reported that 40 per cent of the jobless worldwide are young people. The report stated the global youth unemployment rate for 2012 will remain stuck at crisis peak levels adding that there will be nearly 75 million unemployed youth aged 15 to 24 in 2012, an increase of nearly 4 million since 2007.
However, it submitted that youth unemployment crisis can be beaten only if job creation for young people becomes a key priority in policy-making.
ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, said a decent job is the best way out of poverty, adding that it is also the way economies can grow. "By contrast, where jobs are scarce or where available livelihoods leave families in poverty, there is less growth, less security and less human and economic development," he added.
The ILO estimated that 45 - 50 million new jobs would be needed every year for the next ten years to keep up with the numbers of people entering the labour market.
The organisation is calling for jobs to be a central goal of the post-2015 development framework, which will be drawn up by the United Nations and other international bodies as a follow-up to the MDGs. "We need decent work - including full employment - as a goal in its own right," said the ILO Chief.
Given this changed landscape, "Setting full employment and decent work as an explicit goal and target will focus the attention of policy makers and development practitioners on this critical need," Ryder explained.
A global framework, he said, would encourage knowledge sharing and global partnerships. It would also promote fairness, equal opportunity and workers' rights.
"Setting a goal of full employment and decent work can contribute to balanced and stable growth in global consumer demand and can benefit countries and communities," Ryder said. "But the most important thing is that it can help change the lives of billions of people for the better", he added.