ILO addresses the Geneva Science-Policy Interface at the event on “Governing in the Age of Complexity: Building Resilience to COVID-19 and Future Pandemics”

News | 29 March 2021
On 25 March 2021, an online event was jointly organized by the Geneva Science-Policy Interface (GSPI) and the UN SDG Lab to mark the launch of the publication of a new GSPI policy brief entitled “Governing in the Age of Complexity: Building Resilience to COVID-19 and Future Pandemics”. The event was opened by the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva and the Rector of the University of Geneva, with the participation of several Embassies, international organizations, academics and civil society organizations.

The policy brief (available on GSPI’s website together with the event agenda) proposes actions that are needed to build resilient societies to pandemics, highlighting the need to address the complex systemic issues in a holistic manner.

Ms. Mito Tsukamoto, Chief of Development and Investment Branch (DEVINVEST), joined this launch event as a panellist to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the World of Work. She pointed to the fact that a “lack of decent work combined with rising unemployment and persisting inequality was making it increasingly difficult for people to build better lives through their work,” as already highlighted in the ILO’s Flagship Report in 2020. She reminded that many countries were already facing severe economic and financial crises before the pandemic and that projections then were that not enough new jobs would be created in 2020 to absorb new entrants to the labour market. Human-centred recovery policies and measures focused on employment central to the recovery are essential to address the root causes of inequalities, not only ensure that individuals’ livelihoods are met, but also having direct, indirect and induced impacts in the economy which will create positive multipliers. This will be the key to lifting people out of poverty, with the aim of encouraging self-reliance and inspiring hope for the future.

Citing a recent joint publication by the ILO, WHO, Interpeace and the UN Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO), Ms. Tsukamoto highlighted that especially in countries with insufficient fiscal space, weak or non-existent social protection systems with large number of informal workers and poverty, COVID-19 potentially can further deepen existing structural inequalities and social injustice. These economic, social and environmental inequalities could increase mistrust and ignite or exacerbate grievances – all which are fragility and conflict drivers that can further undermine the SDGs, peace and social cohesion. She also emphasized how its recommendations particularly in the context of fragility resonate with the GSPI’s policy brief in that they both call for solidary responses to multi-dimensional resilience factors through a holistic and integrated approach.

She concluded that in order not to lose the years of development towards the SDGs it was important to focus on policies that can build resilient societies, while addressing inequalities, environmental degradation, increasing constraints on food security and livelihoods, while supporting inclusion through:
  • economic diversification and structural change to enhance employment and productivity growth and develop programmes that can maximize the employment impact of trade and sectoral policies;
  • employment-intensive job opportunities which can have simultaneous economic, social and environmental impacts building needed assets and basic services – such as required transport, water, sanitation and health infrastructure - increasing food security and strengthening resilience, also by contributing to disaster risk reduction.
  • employment-centred policies for countries in the fragile context affected by conflict and disaster to enable recovery and build resilience in a more equitable, inclusive and sustainable manner.