Introduction of the Reports of the Secretary-General (2012 Annual Ministerial Review and the Thematic Discussion)

Statement by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)

H.E. Mr. Miloš Koterec, President of ECOSOC,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have the pleasure to introduce the reports of the Secretary-General for this year’s Annual Ministerial Review and Thematic Discussion. These reports, prepared in close consultation with colleagues in the UN system, inform our dialogue on productive capacity, employment and decent work. 

The Council is focusing on a critical topic during a critical time.

In both developing and developed countries, the global economic and financial crisis has exacerbated challenges to full and productive employment.

Since the onset of the crisis nearly four years ago, the groups that are traditionally marginalized in labour markets have become even more excluded.  In many cases, even workers accustomed to job security are now exposed to new vulnerabilities.

Since 2007, global unemployment has increased from 170 million to almost 200 million. Throughout the world, labour force participation rates have fallen.

In the developing world, underemployment and informal and casual work remain a major concern.

Even while we celebrate progress in global efforts to reduce extreme poverty, the number of working poor is actually increasing in some regions. 

Overall, one in every three workers in the world is living with their families below the $2 poverty line.  As working families confront hardship, they cut spending for goods and services, further depressing economic activity and business confidence.  Some groups are particularly impacted, such as young people, in both developed and developing countries.  

These grim trends in the global jobs crisis are analyzed in depth in the 2012 Annual Ministerial Review Report.

It identifies obstacles to the achievement of more inclusive, sustained and equitable economic growth.  And, it reviews the implementation of the 2009 Global Jobs Pact by the UN system. 

The Report argues for elevating employment in the development agenda and addressing the multi-dimensional challenges of those without work. 

It highlights three key inter-linkages between the international development agenda and productive capacity and employment. 

First, efforts for poverty eradication will not be successful without a focus on decent work.
Countries that saw some of the fastest reductions in poverty since 2000 were also those where productive job  opportunities rapidly expanded.

Second, quality jobs are necessary to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The MDG framework recognizes that decent jobs are a crucial driver of well-being. 

Third, full and productive employment is essential to ensuring that growth and development are inclusive, sustainable and equitable.

In this regard, efforts to implement sustainable development can help stimulate an inclusive economy and create quality jobs. 

Let me add here that at the Rio+20 conference, Member States accorded top priority to employment issues and called for job creation by investing in and developing sound economic and social infrastructure and productive capacities for sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth.

They also called for forward-looking macroeconomic policy.

Distinguished Delegates,

The Thematic Report, which is also before the Council, focuses on macroeconomic policy and its impact on employment.  The report stresses that macroeconomic policymaking should address the urgent need for employment creation.

Full employment should be a central macroeconomic policy goal.  And fiscal policies should be supportive of government investments in job creation.

Recent experience further shows that monetary policies must ensure financial sector stability and support productive sectors, especially agriculture, and employment-intensive small and medium enterprises.

The report also highlights the importance of international cooperation, particularly through the inter-linkages of trade, technology transfer, foreign direct investment and industrial policies.

Mr. President,


The right to decent work is fundamental to sustainable development.

The world needs quality jobs and productive capacity to generate momentum for sustained, inclusive and equitable growth, and to strengthen social wellbeing of families and communities. 

I am confident that this session of the Council will: 

  • bring urgent global attention to the importance of full and productive employment,
  • spotlight the policy measures that have proved effective,
  • provide guidance on the way forward, and
  • generate further momentum for actions to promote decent jobs for all.

Thank you.