G20 Leaders’ Summit

G20 nations need to lead a global response to pandemic

In a speech at the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Saudi Arabia, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder outlined the steps needed to restore economic growth and jobs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Statement | 22 November 2020
Your Royal Highness,

Together with the health emergency we confront an employment crisis of unprecedented proportions.

The equivalent of 345 million full-time jobs were lost globally in the third quarter of this year, 225 million of them in the G20, with a global decline in labour income of more than 10%. The short-term employment outlook is bleak, given the continuing impact of the pandemic and of restrictions in many countries.

The G20’s commitment to do “whatever it takes” has translated into fiscal policy measures which, in G20 countries, have saved the equivalent of at least 93 million full time jobs that would otherwise have been lost.

In addition G20 countries have introduced many new social protection measures to protect people and their livelihoods. The ILO has identified 412 such measures, benefiting over 645 million people.

It is vital now that such measures remain in place and at scale, to avert a massive surge in unemployment and to minimize the long-term damage of economic inactivity by keeping people’s attachment to the labour market.

But developing countries have lacked adequate resources, and their fiscal stimulus packages have only minimally compensated for the hit to employment. Financial support mobilized by the G20 to fill this gap would make a crucial difference to fighting the crisis, and truly demonstrate the value of international cooperation and solidarity.

This could form part of a G20 Initiative to provide adequate, sustainable social protection for all.

Your Majesty,

The G20 under the Saudi Presidency has committed to ‘building back better’ and has a unique opportunity to do that. This is urgent in light of the deep-rooted inequalities that the COVID-19 crisis has exposed. Without profound structural changes these will merely intensify, with consequences that we cannot predict.

This global crisis demands a global response – with the G20 to the fore.

In the world of work, this means:
  • stimulating the economy and employment;
  • supporting enterprises, jobs and incomes;
  • ensuring social and health protection for all;
  • and using social dialogue.
Just last week, the ILO decided that our International Labour Conference next year will discuss and adopt a global response for a human-centred recovery from the COVID-19 crisis that is sustainable and resilient.

We will work with the G20 to ensure that our post-pandemic world is both more inclusive and more sustainable.

Thank you.