Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted by world leaders at their summit in September 2015, outlined 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).The goal of promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all in 15 years’ time, is SDG-8.
Since 1990 significant progress has been made in reducing the number of workers living in extreme poverty. In the 25-year period to 2015, it is estimated that in developing countries the number of middle-class workers has almost tripled and now makes up more than 34 percent of total employment.
However, in recent years, due to sluggish global economy, growth has been slower, inequalities have widened and employment has not been keeping up with the growing young labor force. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), more than 204 million people remain unemployed in 2015, of which 75 million are young women and men.
With around 470 million jobs needed globally for new entrants to the labor market between 2016 and 2030, it is believed that the creation of quality jobs in decent surroundings will continue to remain a major challenge for almost all economies well beyond 2015.
Moreover, in many parts of the world, having a job is often not sufficient to guarantee warding off poverty and half the world’s population still continues to live on the equivalent of less than US$2 per day. The slow and uneven progress at eradicating poverty makes it obvious that we need to rethink and retool our economic and social policies.
A major target for SDG-8 is to achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all working-age people, including for persons with disabilities, and ensure equal pay for work of equal value. The goal aims to substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training by 2020. With this in mind, Goal-8 urges developing and operationalizing a global strategy for youth employment and implementing the ‘Global Jobs Pact’ of the ILO.
The Pact, which was introduced in 2009, calls for respecting fundamental principles and rights at work, as well as strengthening social protection, promoting gender equality and encouraging social dialogue.
Another target of SDG-8 is encouraging growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises and strengthening capacity of domestic financial institutions to expand access of their services for all. It also stresses on the need to improve global resource efficiency in consumption and production, and to endeavor to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation.
Sustainable economic growth is built on the principle that economic growth and environmental protection are not mutually elusive.
Goal 8 also calls for protecting labor rights and promoting safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers and those in precarious employment. In addition, the goal targets, ending all forms of child labor by 2025 and implementing effective measures to eradicate forced labor, modern slavery and human trafficking by 2030.
On the economic front, SDG-8 notes that a range of supply-side and trade-related infrastructure obstacles lead to high trade-costs that constrain the ability of developing and least developed countries to trade globally. These costs effectively isolate countries from world markets and often nullify comparative advantage by rendering their exports uncompetitive. Goal-8 targets enhancing the ‘Aid for Trade’ initiative of the World Trade Organization, which aims to assist developing countries and their donors to mobilize resources needed to overcome some of the high trade costs.
Also, recognizing the transformative potential of over one billion annual tourists and their capacity to help boost socio-economic and environmental development, SDG-8 urges countries to devise and implement policies promoting sustainable tourism. As one of the world’s leading employment sectors, tourism provides important livelihood opportunities, helping to alleviate poverty. Tourism contributes 10 percent of global GDP and accounts for 6 percent of world’s total exports. SDG-8 targets a sustainable tourism that can drive inclusive development, create jobs and promote local culture and products.
The basic social contract underlying democratic societies is that all must share in progress. However, this is often undermined by the continued lack of decent work opportunities, insufficient investments and under-consumption. Through sustained economic growth gained by encouraging diversification, higher levels of productivity and technological innovations, as well as promoting policies that support entrepreneurship and job creation, the SDG-8 can hopefully be achieved by 2030.