Press Release

The Government of Vanuatu commits to development of the first National Employment Policy

Promoting Economic Diversification and Environmental Sustainability

Press release | Port Vila, Vanuatu | 29 September 2022
Seminar participants in Port Vila, Vanuatu.
Port Vila (ILO News) – The Government of Vanuatu in partnership with ILO and employers’ and workers’ organizations have kicked off a 3-day seminar for the Development of National Employment Policy for Economic Diversification and Environmental Sustainability at the Warwick Le Lagon Resort in Port Vila.

The purpose of the seminar is to set the stage for the preparation of the first inclusive National Employment Policy by helping Government, employers’ and workers’ organizations and other state administration bodies to understand the requirements for the development and implementation of a high-quality gender-responsive and evidence-based policy for validation and adoption by the respective key authorities in the country. The seminar will provide platform for discussion and practical guidance for the formulation of national employment policy framework structured by the current conditions related to COVID-19 crisis, weather-related natural disasters, and other national priorities. It will also discuss elements related to strategic planning, consultation, coordination, preparation of policy options, implementation, and monitoring.

The seminar will also focus on some measures to help countries in their efforts to respond to the COVID-19 crisis towards job-rich recovery for all. For example, the discussion will evolve around designing gender-responsive employment policy for creating equitable share of economic recovery, reshaping skills development efforts in line with emerging economic activities and potential technological transformation and environmental sustainability in the country. It will also address issues regarding promoting the transition of workers and enterprises from the informal to the formal economy as well as strengthening resilience in the face of the ongoing crisis.

During the opening of the workshop Hon. Ishmael Kalsakau, Caretaker Minister of Internal Affairs & Deputy Prime Minister mentioned that “A structural transformation should be a national priority to cope with the changing dynamics, associated with how the emerging world of work will look like. This requires re-orienting employment policies towards promoting a more job-rich and resilient recovery. Identifying national employment policy priorities and transforming it into practice is a multifaceted process that requires solid commitment and coordination from all actors involved”.

Identifying national employment policy priorities and transforming them into practice is a multifaceted process that requires solid commitment and coordination from all actors involved. It requires extensive efforts to define recovery measures and employment resilience policies and map them instrumentally through national implementation mechanisms.
The ILO Director for Pacific Island Countries Mr. Matin Karimli during his virtual speech mentioned that “The challenge facing Pacific Island Countries, including Vanuatu requires new policy approaches and tools to work effectively for building back better. ILO is committed to provide countries the technical assistance they need to be able to reduce vulnerabilities and safeguard themselves from future crisis. Those discussions and your participation in the seminar, from various sectors of the economy, demonstrate the willingness of the government, employers, workers, civil society as well as young women and men to have an active role in improving employment opportunities now and in the future.”

The ILO Decent Work & Employment Specialist for Pacific Island Countries Mr. Kinan Bahnassi during his presentation highlighted: “the importance of designing integrated approach to the policy framework to support jobs recovery from the Pandemic and natural disasters and the ability to strengthen the resilience of workers and enterprises to withstand future shocks. It must encompass broader scales and dimensions of labour market challenges, the impact of climate change and even issues with disaster risk management. The policy should recognize situational changes resulting from the ongoing crisis and understand the whole system approach and its linkages from a short-, medium- and long-term perspective”.

To support ILO, employers’ and workers’ organizations in this endeavor, it is critical that there is greater clarity on key concepts linked to demand-side policies and how they can support job creation in a developing-country context. In this regard, the design of such policies requires careful consideration of the specific constraints faced by low- and middle-income countries. This policy design should consider not only the labour market, sectoral and financial structures, and the external position of the economy, but also the long-run development goals of the country.

(L to R) Mrs. Loreen Baniuri - President Vanuatu Trade Union Combine, Mrs. Murielle Meltenoven, Commissioner, Department of Labour & Employment Services, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Mrs. Cherol Ala Ianna, Director General of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Hon. Ishmael Kalsakau, Caretaker Minister of Internal Affairs & Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Kinan Bahnassi, Decent Work & Employment Specialist, CO-Suva, Mrs. Astrid Boulekone, General Manager, Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
This work will be further supported in the future under a new ILO joint project titled “Advancing the SDGs by Improving livelihoods and resilience via economic diversification and digital transformation” and Vanuatu is one of the target countries under this project.

The Joint Programme (JP) aims to simultaneously advance the development of foundations for digital economy in the South Pacific Small Islands Developing States (PSIDS), support economic diversification and build greater community resilience across the three dimensions of sustainable development (social, environmental, and economic). It recognizes that to enhance community resilience of the PSIDS, integrated strategies for development focusing on strengthening economic resilience, promoting decent work, improving social protection, protecting human rights, supporting digital connectivity and environmental sustainability go hand in hand.

For more information, please contact:


Kinan Bahnassi
Decent Work & Employment Specialist 

Bimlesh Raj
National Programme Officer
ILO Office for Pacific Island Countries