Workers and Sustainable Development

Message at the Trade Unions and Sustainable Development Goals: A South-South Learning Exchange and Training Workshop

Delivered on behalf of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in the Philippines by Khalid Hassan, Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines, 2 December 2019, Makati City, Philippines

Statement | Makati City, Philippines | 02 December 2019
  • Director Darauay representing Secretary Pernia of the National Economic and Development Authority,
  • Brothers and Sisters representing workers organizations and the trade union movement from around the world,
  • Colleagues from the UN and the ILO led by officials from the ILO Bureau for Workers’ Activities,
  • Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
  • Magandang umaga sa inyong lahat (Good morning to all of you)!
Brothers and sisters representing workers organizations and trade unions globally, a warm welcome to all of you to Manila.

I hope that despite a full-packed agenda, you will have the time to appreciate the beauty of the Philippines, its nature, culture and its wonderful people.

The Office of the United Nations in the Philippines requested me to represent and deliver this message on behalf of the UN Resident Coordinator, a.i.

The Sustainable Development Goals is all about leaving no one behind. Workers organizations and trade unions play a critical role to ensure this will happen.

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for a decade of action and urged member States to find solutions and accelerate efforts to achieve the SDGs.

A decade of action means we have only 10 years left before the deadline to achieve all 17 goals.

Globally, the UN Secretary-General cited progress made in areas such as access to energy, to decent work and in fighting extreme poverty and child mortality in his address to the
SDG Summit held this year.

The Philippines, in its second Voluntary National Review (VNR), has reported progress made in achieving the global goals through the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

Trade union efforts helped influence the VNR and participated in subsequent activities, which is an important contribution to influence the development policy in the Philippines.

On decent work and economic growth or SDG 8, the Philippines recorded a gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of over six percent as well as the lowest national unemployment rate in almost 15 years based on the report.

The Green Jobs Act further promoted decent jobs that are environment-friendly, protect the ecosystem and biodiversity and help reduce waste generation and pollution.

The private sector also brought inclusive business models and value chains, while disadvantaged groups availed themselves of livelihood support programs to lift communities out of poverty.

To promote social protection and to narrow the gap between male and female labour force, the Philippines has also expanded maternity leave benefits and extended its conditional cash transfer to poor families.

On reduced inequalities or SDG 10, data showed a significant growth rate in household income per capita of the bottom 40 per cent of the population, private companies now hire more persons with disability and poor communities were also empowered through a community-driven development approach.

The Philippine government and the UN have partnered as well to accelerate progress through the Partnership Framework for Sustainable Development.

The Prosperity and Planet is one of the pillars co-convened by the ILO. Under the pillar, urbanization, economic growth, and climate change actions are converging for a resilient, equitable, and sustainable development path for communities.

The PFSD is the first Philippines – UN country plan that redefines the nature of UN System engagement in the Philippines from one that provides “development assistance” to a collaboration in a strategic partnership.

A whole-of-government and a whole-of-society approach are vital under this collaboration.

Despite progress made, challenges and gaps remain. I am sure workers organizations and trade unions in the Philippines will say that more needs to be done, especially on SDG 8.

All 17 goals including SDG 8, set out a wide range of economic, social and environmental objectives in an integrated and in a rights-based approach to development.

Your voices and actions indeed are important to make this happen. You have a crucial role in generating solutions and accelerating action to address systemic gaps in implementation of the SDGs.

This South-South Learning Exchange Workshop is an opportunity for representatives of workers organizations and trade unions from various countries in the global South to exchange knowledge and experiences on how they are influencing the 2030 development agenda processes to promote and advance trade union priorities.

Each of you will share experiences with regard to VNRs, and find strategies and solutions to ensure that we leave no one behind.

On behalf of the UN Country Team in the Philippines, I take this opportunity to express our appreciation for this important learning exchange and dialogue that will contribute to the call for a Decade of Action.

This year, the ILO marks its 100th Anniversary and President Duterte declared the year 2019 as the ILO Centenary in the Philippines. Workers organizations and trade unions as part of the unique tripartite structure of the ILO have contributed much towards advancing social justice and promoting decent work.

Next year, the UN will mark its 75th Anniversary. A UN@75 and Beyond campaign will launch the biggest global conversation on how we will navigate this turbulent period for the world.

The UN in the Philippines as part of these dialogues is committed to engaging with labour and business groups to shape its programmes and activities in the country.

The Philippines has taken crucial steps, and the UN appreciates the active involvement of workers organizations and trade unions along the process.

I encourage each of you to engage in the process in your respective countries. Developing the UN cooperation framework like the PFSD is crucial. The Common Country Analysis is the initial key step designing such programmes and assessments. I strongly believe that you should be part of this process at the onset given the need for impartial analysis.

Dialogues will be held at the global, regional, national and local levels, which will be convened by member States, civil society, academia, labour and business groups, young people and by the UN itself.

The UN is looking forward to the initiatives and contributions of workers organizations and trade unions in making these dialogues happen given our commitment to leave no one behind. It will be important to get prepared and contribute to this process framed by the following questions:

The first is, “What kind of a world do we want to create?” Imagine the world in 2045. What kind of future do we have for the next generation?

The second question is, “Where is the world heading?” What would 2045 look like if current trends continue? Will we have achieved the Sustainable Development Goals and addressed the threats we face at present? Or could we expect a different set of challenges to have emerged?

Finally, we will ask ourselves, “What action is needed to close the gap—the difference between the future we want and the future that our children will probably inherit?”

The answers and solutions that you have to these questions as representatives of workers organizations and trade unions will help fuel the decade of action to achieve goals set under the 2030 Agenda and to address the most important issues of our time.

I wish you all a very exciting learning exchange and dialogue. Finally, I look forward to hearing your voices and contributions to the future envisioned in the SDGs and the decade of action.

Thank you very much!