Crisis response

MDGs remain achievable despite setbacks due to the crisis

UN Summit "Keeping the Promise: United to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals" despite global crisis hindering growth and employment

News | 05 October 2010

Global Jobs Pact instrumental in fighting poverty

The UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals concluded recently in New York with the adoption of a global action plan to achieve the eight anti-poverty goals by their 2015 target date, the announcement of major new commitments for women’s and children’s health and other initiatives against poverty, hunger and disease. Among these, a very important step forward was the recognition of decent work and employment creation as a key means to alleviate poverty and prevent millions of people to fall under the poverty line of $2 a day established in 2008.

The Summit Outcome Document recognizes the need to promote the Global Jobs Pact as a general framework within which each country can formulate policy packages specific to its situation and national priorities in order to promote a job intensive recovery and sustainable development. The measures advocated by the Pact – labour-intensive investments in infrastructure, support to small and medium enterprises, job retention measures, skills and employment services, targeted public employment schemes, comprehensive social security provisions, wage policies and stronger collective bargaining institutions – have proven efficient in stemming the rise in unemployment.

The world labour force is growing annually by around 1.6 percent adding more than 45 million job seekers per year, mostly in the developing world. Unemployment has risen by more than 30 million since 2007, counting now 210 million unemployed of the 3.21 billion global labour force. In a major push to find equitable and sustainable levels of growth and development, the Outcome Document stressed the need to enhance employment and income opportunities for all, with a special focus on the poor. In this respect, the ILO international conventions are part of the human rights-based accountability framework, employers and workers being vital allies in increasing employment opportunities, promoting agricultural development and reducing poverty.

“We call on Member States to take effective measures for promoting social inclusion and integration and incorporate these into their national development strategies”, the document says. The ILO Decent Work Agenda and its crisis response, the Global Jobs Pact, are at the core of these efforts.

The document establishes the key steps to be taken by 2015 to accelerate progress on each one of the 8 Millennium Development Goals. In the closing press release, the United Nations highlights significant commitments made by Governments, international organizations and partners, as well as by business representatives at the Private Sector Forum organized by the UN Global Compact, such as:

• The World Bank will increase its support to agriculture to between $6 billion and $8 billion a year over the next three years, up from $4.1 billion annually before 2008, under its Agriculture Action Plan to help boost incomes, employment and food security in many low-income areas.

• The Republic of Korea pledged $100 million to support food security and agriculture in developing countries.

• Chile announced an Ethical Family Income initiative, to be launched in 2011, to supplement the income of the poorest families and those in the vulnerable middle class.

•, a global job-search online engine, committed to expand access to job opportunities for rural youth in India by promoting access to, an Internet job portal, in 40,000 villages across nine states in India.

In addition to calling on the General Assembly to continue to review the progress of implementation of the MDGs, especially on the most lagging targets, the outcome document requested the President of the 68th session of the General Assembly to organize a “special event” in 2013 to follow up on efforts made towards achieving the MDGs. It also called on the UN Secretary-General to make recommendations for further steps to advance the UN’s development agenda beyond 2015.


In addressing the second Goal, “Achieve Universal Primary Education”, the Outcome Document calls for an increase in the number of teachers and an improvement in their status, as well as an enhancement of their quality through comprehensive policies that address issues of recruitment, training, retention, professional development, evaluation, employment and teaching conditions. Primary education and access to secondary education, vocational training and non-formal education are essential in order to facilitate the entry into the labour market and access to better quality jobs.

The ILO estimates that the number of unemployed youth increased by 8.5 million between 2008 and 2009, the largest year-on-year increase in at least ten years. Against this somber economic background, Teachers and trainers for the future: Vocational training in a changing world (TVET) systems worldwide are under pressure to deal with employment and workplace challenges.

Gender equality and better jobs for women

Women and gender equality were main topics on the agenda, as the Summit announced major new commitments for women’s and children’s health. Accelerating progress toward achieving the third Goal, “Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women” involves a review of policy measures aimed at promoting, inter alia, the access of women and girls, including mothers and pregnant women, to formal and non-formal education, equal skills development and employment opportunities, closing wage gaps between women and men and recognizing women’s unpaid work, including care work.

World leaders at the Summit reaffirmed their commitment to “Investing in infrastructure and labour-saving technologies, especially in rural areas, benefiting women and girls by reducing their burden of domestic activities, affording the opportunity for girls to attend school and women to engage in self-employment or participate in the labour market”.

Social protection floor

The global crisis showed that fiscal and monetary policies may not be sufficient to prevent a prolonged jobs crisis. Therefore, employment and social policy makers should be at the macroeconomic decision making table – nationally and internationally. Some 80 per cent of the workforce in emerging and developing economies work and live without any or insufficient social protection.

The Social Protection Floor Initiative - one of the nine UN joint crisis initiatives - co-led by the ILO and the World Health Organization, promotes an integrated approach to provide access to essential social services and income security for all.

Beyond the crisis, the social protection floor has gained widespread acceptance as pivotal component of the sustainable and resilient growth strategy, and tool to accelerate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and promote Social Justice. The International Labour Organization recently created the Social Protection Floor Advisory Group, chaired by H.E. Ms Michelle Bachelet, “to enhance global advocacy activities and to further elaborate the conceptual policy aspects of the social protection floor approach”.

These efforts were acknowledged by the Summit in its Outcome Document which took note of the successful policies and approaches and stated that “promoting universal access to social services and providing social protection floors can make an important contribution to consolidating and achieving further development gains. Social protection systems that address and reduce inequality and social exclusion are essential for protecting the gains over poverty and accelerating progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals”.

For more information about the Global Jobs Pact and its implementation at national level, please contact