ILO supports setting up a Pakistan Business Task Force for building capacity of the country’s employers to be effectively engaged in the UN Sustainable Development Cooperative Framework (UNSDCF) process

Inauguration address by Ms Dagmar Walter, Director, DWT South Asia and India Country Office at the Asia-Pacific Knowledge Sharing Workshop: Case Studies - Pakistan, on behalf of ILO Regional Director Chihoko Asada.

Statement | New Delhi, India | 24 November 2021
- The International Labour Organization has been a pioneer of inclusive development, stakeholder engagement and industrial democracy for more than 100 years and in more than one way. The idea of social partnership was extremely innovative back in 1919 when the ILO was born.

- Today, as a result of its endurance, we have a system of international labour standards and policies developed and agreed by those who are directly affected by them. We also have social dialogue, in many parts of the world, as a preferred mechanism to achieve sustained policy outcomes.

- The other ILO innovation was the audacity to engage private sector in policy and decision-making and recognize its role as development partner already 100 years ago. This recognition builds on a couple of ideas:

o One is that formulating effective policy requires that governments consult those affected by their decisions, in order to ensure a balanced approach.
o The other one is that employers have the power and resources to create jobs and improve working conditions directly at the workplace.

- Today, our common agenda officially recognizes the role of what is a very diverse private sector in tackling sustainable development challenges by applying its resources, creativity and innovation.

- Private sector remains the main source of economic growth, jobs and prosperity. The global 2030 Agenda has also recognized the need to foster a dynamic and responsible private sector. Therefore, we see an unprecedented call for partnership with private sector in the implementation of the Agenda, starting with the UN reform.

- When we talk about employer and business organizations (who are ILO constituents), we refer to organizations of companies that represent their collective labour or commercial interests. The strength and value of these organizations are rooted in their membership nature. Unlike individual business or ad-hoc business groups and clubs, they speak on behalf of all, often diverse, members; have mechanisms to ensure transparency and accountability to members and to the public; their functions are regulated by a dedicated legislation.

- Employer and Business Member Organizations are an important part of the democratic governance and provide their members with access to or influence on policy-makers, legislators and politicians in an open and transparent manner. At the same time, they are the main source of information for governments on the views and solutions proposed by business. It is clear that the Sustainable Development Goals cannot be achieved without private sector and organizations that speak for it.

- At our end, we, as ILO, are working to maximize EBMOs understanding and contribution to the UN programming. Last year ILO’s Bureau for Employers Activities (ACTEMP) conducted a survey to see to what extend EBMOs are aware and participated in the UNSDCF development process. Out of 59 organizations that responded only 9 participated. Half of the EBMOs had no opportunity to participate, one third had insufficient information and quarter had insufficient information on how to engage. The main conclusion from the survey was that even if EBMOs have positions, research and data to offer, lack of information and heavy process limit their engagement.

- It is noteworthy that UNRCs recognize the importance of social dialogue in addressing the challenges and difficulties of the labour market and social protection, especially in the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, essential to helping governments identify and prioritize the measures most likely to be effective and feasible, given each particular country’s situation. Tripartite social dialogue will help businesses to improve their overall preparedness for COVID-19 OSH risks and contingencies.

- The new UN Management and Accountability Framework calls on RCs to forge strategic partnerships with EBMOs and TUs. Hence, we will support initiatives in this regard, like the one tonight.

- As far as we understand, the process has just commenced in Pakistan. The ILO Islamabad Office and Employers Federation Pakistan have been directly engaged by the RCO in this process and I wish to thank Mr Julien Harneis for this. We are happy to note that ILO is chairing the working group on Economic development and Decent Work and are confident that the Private Sector in Pakistan can be well represented by the EFP and its affiliated Business Chambers and Associations.

- We have had discussions with EFP on the setting up a Pakistan Business Task Force (PBTF) for the UNDSCF process. ILO will be happy to support the employers in terms of capacity building and enabling them to make a productive contribution on behalf of Business in Pakistan.

I thank you for your patience and your kind attention.