BERLIN (Germany) – Shaping a fair globalization not only requires that governments consult more closely, but also that key international organizations act with greater coherence to achieve jointly set goals. German Chancellor Angela Merkel therefore met in Berlin on 19 December with the heads of five international organizations-- the ILO, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to discuss fair ground rules for a socially equitable and open global economy.
“We need a coherent overall concept for everything we do to promote open markets, fair competition, sustainable development and socially equitable growth and employment”, Ms. Merkel said. “That is the only way to ensure a fair and balanced globalization from which everyone benefits.” The Chancellor called on the international organizations to develop a shared understanding of the manifold and equally important interconnections between economic prosperity, environmental protection and social justice and to cooperate with one another on this basis.
The ILO strongly welcomes the German initiative for more international policy coherence. ILO Director-General Juan Somavia called it an important initiative to build a social market economy on a global scale: “We must work together to create a virtuous spiral, in which social progress feeds economic development, and more economic prosperity in turn will bring about even further social progress. The ultimate objective is to foster a sustainable development that is based on three equally strong pillars: the economic, the social and the environmental pillar.” The Decent Work Agenda is the ILO’s contribution to this process.
The meeting – the first of its kind – was one of the outcomes of the G8 summit in Heiligendamm in June 2007. In their summit declaration, the leaders of the eight major industrialized nations emphasized explicitly: “We support ILO’s Decent Work Agenda with its four pillars of equal importance: the effective implementation of labour standards, especially the ILO core labour standards, the creation of more productive employment, further development of inclusive social protection systems and the support of social dialogue between the different stakeholders.”
The participants in the Berlin meeting agreed to continue to collaborate and to begin with a specific subject, namely climate change, under the Japanese G8 presidency. The German Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Olaf Scholz, said he was pleased that social issues were also firmly put on the international agenda. “In the end, societies that respect workers’ rights and social standards will be more successful than those that do not.” He also emphasized the social responsibility of corporations which, as he said, play an important role in putting standards into practice.
Mr. Somavia added to this: “Social standards can be brought about through a convergence of means: the creation of decent work, free trade unions, strong labour market institutions and labour laws – and of course the practice of companies.” He pointed out that good labour relations have proved to support the competitiveness of multinational corporations, to be the foundation of sustainable enterprises.
Other issues discussed during the meeting between the Chancellor and the heads of agencies included trade and the successful conclusion of the WTO’s Doha Development Round; greater transparency in the world financial markets; sustainable development and investment in Africa; and addressing the challenges of climate change. Participants in the meeting were, Chancellor Merkel, Labour Minister Scholz, Mr. Somavia, IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, World Bank President Robert Zoellick, WTO Director General Pascal Lamy and OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría.