Inter-agency Technical Meeting: Building employment and decent work into sustainable recovery and development – The UN contribution

The interagency technical meeting on “Building employment and decent work into sustainable recovery and development – The UN contribution” took place at the ILO training Centre in Turin from 29 November-1 December 2010. It looked at how a coherent multilateral system could assist vulnerable countries in setting conditions for new patterns of growth to strengthen resilience in a volatile international economic environment and to generate employment and decent work for a rapidly growing labour force. The meeting was organized by the ILO and the United Nations Department of Social and Economic Affairs (UNDESA). It brought together a few selected international experts and practitioners and senior technical officials from 15 agencies within the multilateral system including the World Bank and the IMF.

The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss good practice and compare notes on innovative approaches in critical policy areas, from the re-emergence of long-neglected industrial and agricultural policies to active labour market interventions, public employment programmes and new unconventional measures such as employment guarantee schemes.

Emphasis was given to the importance of accurate measurement and assessment of the impact of different sets of policy measures and on the need for interagency coherence and coordination. Effective strategies to generate decent and productive jobs have to go beyond interventions in the labour market. The macroeconomic environment, governance, security, investment climate, education, training and social protection systems - all have a role. This requires different areas of expertise and consistency across different types of interventions.

A review of on-going experience revealed that there are significant transactions costs to coordination and collaboration as a result of differences in mandates and operational structures. Yet, in the wake of the global financial and economic crisis, there appears to be some convergence in the way UN agencies are approaching issues of poverty, employment and growth. This encourages coherence in key areas such as macroeconomic policies that better reconcile sustainability and growth; investment and trade strategies geared at crowding in private sector investment, local production capacities and economic diversification; and policies and institutions to address labour market vulnerabilities and inequalities, ensuring that workers’ productivity translates into adequate remuneration and earnings. Also common is the quest for holistic development strategies to eradicate poverty, encompassing initiatives to strengthen productive capacities, address inequalities and create opportunities and voice for people across the full spectrum of the job market, and not just the extension of targeted basic welfare services for the poorest.

The meeting produced several ideas and suggestions to promote knowledge sharing, policy dialogue, synergies and voluntary system-wide collaboration. Those outcomes will feed into the system-wide Plan of Action on Full Employment and Decent Work for All under the 2nd United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2008-2017). Some support to the meeting was provided by the Government of Norway under the ILO-Norway Cooperation Agreement on Policy Coherence for Growth, Employment and Decent Work.