Innovative technology lets partners witness impact of flexible resources on Decent Work in Egypt

A delegation of development partners virtually toured the ILO’s country programme

News | 15 September 2021
GENEVA/CAIRO (ILO News) – A delegation of development partners was able to see first-hand achievements in Egypt supported by the International Labour Organization (ILO), during their virtual visit to the country programme on 15 September 2021. The visit was technically supported and facilitated by the ILO’s International Training Centre (ITC) based in Turin, who has developed innovative ways of engaging funding partners throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a first-ever virtual field visit, the ILO and its International Training Centre,
led delegates on a three-dimensional immersive experience using Oculus headsets (ILO/2021©).
The visit sought to highlight the important role played by un-earmarked core funding, referred to as RBSA (Regular Budget Supplementary Account), in supporting a country’s joint efforts to promote decent work. As a fully flexible funding modality, RBSA allows the ILO to allocate funds when and where they are most needed. In Egypt, these funds promote workplace compliance within industrial zones, through better labour inspection and counselling services. The project also specifically contributed to ILO Policy Outcome 7: Adequate and effective protection at work for all, and Outcome 1: Strong tripartite constituents and influential and inclusive social dialogue – in addition to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 10 (Reduced inequalities) and 8 (Decent work and economic growth).

Tripartite constituents (the Ministry of Manpower, the Small Farmers Committee, the Telecom Egypt Trade Union Committee, and the Federation of Egyptian Industries), the UN Resident Coordinator Office in Egypt and ILO field office staff shared knowledge with funding partners about how the Organization strengthens labour relations and promotes decent work in the country.

Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden currently contribute to RBSA funding. The delegation included representatives of the Governments of the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, Norway, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Republic of Korea, Sweden, Switzerland and the European Union.

“It is great to see the ILO using this innovative technology to give us a chance to understand how RBSA is making a difference in Egypt,” said Dutch diplomat Theo van de Sande. Other attendees compared the virtual visit to a previous in-person RBSA field visit to Viet Nam two years ago.

“This was an innovative experience,” said Catherine Gigante, Head of Service in Belgium’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “and very useful to understand more about the advantages of RBSA and how it is utilised.” Gigante continued, “for the future it would be useful to have more of ILO’s beneficiaries join us in VR,” to understand the breadth and scope of the Organization’s work.

Each of the 20 delegates from 12 countries wore a virtual reality headset, submersing them into an expansive 360-degree environment where they were guided through the experience by ILO and Turin centre staff. The virtual field visit began on the holodeck, a three-dimensional meeting space, before interacting with local partners in a 45-minute live webinar and lastly, meeting Arun Jacob, Senior Economist at Egypt’s UN Resident Coordinator Office, who highlighted how the ILO’s work contributes to the broader UN Partnership Development Framework in the country.

“The advantage of the VR experience is that we get good insight into an example of how the ILO is using RBSA, but in a condensed form,” said Germany’s Svenja Fohgrub. In addition to easier physical access, it “also allows more people to participate as it only takes a few hours commitment,” said Fohgrub.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world of work has been profoundly impacted. In addition to the tragic loss of life, damage to human health and devastating impact on communities – the pandemic has led to increased unemployment, underemployment and inactivity; losses in labour and business income.

COVID-19’s impacts include exacerbated poverty, and economic and social inequality, affecting the most disadvantaged and vulnerable disproportionately – particularly women, individuals in the informal economy and in insecure forms of work; those working in low skilled jobs; migrants and those belonging to ethnic and racial minorities; older persons; and those with disabilities or living with HIV/AIDS.

International organizations have found themselves scrambling to adapt to a new world. Travel restrictions, mandatory quarantine periods and other health sector policies now determine many people’s ability to be mobile, where it was once taken for granted. In response, the ITC has developed a state-of-the-art means of presenting the ILO’s work to funding partners in a way that comes closer than ever before to an actual field visit, without travel.

The flexible nature of RBSA means that funds under it are well-positioned to support innovation. The ILO hopes to leverage innovative technologies such as VR further in the future, including its development partners, illustrating the organization’s impact on the world of work and contributions to a human-centred, inclusive, sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.