UN General Assembly

Accelerating and scaling up the SDGs, leaving no-one behind

Statement | 11 February 2022
Thanks Achim and let me express my sincere gratitude to everybody who's made it possible for me to contribute to this important discussion.

I think that one of the great merits of Our Common Agenda is to have placed centre stage the challenges that we face in the social domain, particularly as you've said, in respect of decent job creation and of social protection.

All of this is underpinned – and I think it is a really very helpful unifying concept – by the notion of renewing social contracts. I would urge us to take the notion of social contract seriously. It might sound like a subjective or intangible notion around which to organize our work, but it's an important one.

Why? Because the notion of a social contract speaks to us all. Because it relates to issues that we can all identify with, which apply to all of our societies, in respect of fairness and equity in our societies. And a simple proposition that people’s reasonable expectations, both of the state and the state's institutions, and looking at this from a specifically ILO perspective – of their working lives – are not disappointed. That those expectations are met.

And the fact of the matter is pre-pandemic, and all the more now as we hopefully begin to exit the pandemic, those expectations are being disappointed.

We see that in respect of growing inequalities, exacerbated by the pandemic, low quality jobs, and where the job is an informal job, the total absence of any notion of social contract, because basically the state has retreated from its responsibilities, or is unable to meet them.

And behind this is the fact that things are changing very quickly. All of the challenges that we are trying to confront are being transformed by the pace of change in the world. I think about the change which is coming from digitalization and technological process.

And the change that needs to come from our accelerated efforts to deal with climate change. All of this, of course, means as the previous speaker has said that the slope ahead of us in trying to meet the 2030 Agenda SDGs is formidable indeed and we have to act and act now in that regard.

The ILO has been very heartened by the Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection for Just Transition launched by the Secretary-General with the support of the ILO in September. We believe and we've heard about the scale of ambition involved, that this is critical and central to the restoration of the social contract and advancing towards the SDGs.

Just to bring colleagues up to date. We are working on giving substance to the Accelerator. We see three pillars upon which it must be constructed: working with particularly pilot countries; the development of national strategies for the Accelerator – we need that national buy-in to make this work; the question of resource mobilization. And there we have to combine the mobilization of domestic resources with the type of international financial support, which is required to make a reality of our ambitions. And then trying to establish, in my view something very important, a higher degree of cohesion in the multilateral system in support of these endeavours.

In that regard, the ILO is convening next week a Global Forum for Human-centred Recovery, which will help us to move in the right direction.

Let me close Achim, by saying how encouraged I was looking at the record of interventions from Member States yesterday. I heard an extraordinary focus on the need to improve social protection. Let's not forget that 4 billion people in the world are without any social protection, and the human consequences of that have been laid brutally clear by the impact of the pandemic.

I'm also encouraged that there seems to be, with all of the issues that still have to be clarified, great support for moving towards a World Social Summit to follow up on what was done so importantly in Copenhagen in 1995. And here too, the ILO stands ready to play its role.

Thank you.