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Day 10: 108th International Labour Conference

Marshall Islands, Belgium, highlight climate threats, technological change

More than thirty world leaders have addressed the two-week International Labour Conference, which this year marks the Centenary of the ILO. They expressed support for the ILO’s social justice mandate and called for global action for a just future of work.

News | 20 June 2019
GENEVA (ILO News) – The President of the Marshall Islands and the King of the Belgians threw the spotlight on the impact of climate change and technology on the world of work, in addresses to delegates at the International Labour Conference.

The President of the Marshall Islands, Hilda Heine, told delegates there was a need to strengthen development approaches suited to small island states with narrow economies. She highlighted the impact of climate change and its effect on the economy, saying “we believe that the increasingly difficult environmental conditions we face at home are already a driver of the migration and youth employment concerns we face.”

“[There is] an urgent need to do more to fight climate change and keep those vulnerable, including workers around the world, safe,” she added.

King Philippe of the Belgians highlighted the key role of the ILO in encouraging states to “make a concrete commitment to greater social justice and to invest in people.”

“Working methods will have to change profoundly under the combined effects of technological change and the need to preserve our environment. The classic growth model has reached its limits and something radically new will have to replace it,” he told delegates.

“The social advances of the past will have to be secured against new economic interests. The inclusive tripartite model and social dialogue must be protected and boosted. They are both stabilizing factors and great assets for better managing the transition.”

UN Secretary-General António Guterres is due to address the plenary of the Centenary ILC on Friday, the last day of the two-week annual Conference, which is being attended by some 5,700 delegates.

Representatives of governments, workers and employers are finalizing discussions on the possible adoption of a Convention and Recommendation on combating violence and harassment in the workplace.

Participants are also considering the adoption of a landmark Centenary Declaration with a focus on the future of work, one of the main issues discussed during the ILC.

The Conference featured seven thematic forums, where heads of international organizations, key figures from business and industry, trade unions, policymakers, representatives of civil society and academia, and young people debated issues related to the future of work.