Growth-Driven Quality Jobs Key to Reducing Poverty in Post-2015 Era, Delegates Stress during General Assembly Meeting

23 May 2014
GA/11512

Growth-Driven Quality Jobs Key to Reducing Poverty in Post-2015 Era, Delegates Stress during General Assembly Meeting

23 May 2014
General Assembly
GA/11512
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-eighth General Assembly

Plenary

88th & 89th Meetings (AM & PM)

Growth-Driven Quality Jobs Key to Reducing Poverty in Post-2015 Era,

 

Delegates Stress during General Assembly Meeting

 

Assembly Vice-President, Secretary-General Cite Uneven

Progress on Millennium Goals, Plight of Millions Trapped in Poverty Worldwide

Sustained, inclusive growth aimed at creating decent, quality jobs for the millions of unemployed, underemployed and informally employed people around the world was the key to reducing poverty in the post-2015 era, speakers in the General Assembly said today.

“We must focus on completing the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals and addressing new and emerging challenges,” Assembly Vice-President Michel Tommo Monthe ( Cameroon), said as he launched a day-long, high-level meeting on the topic attended by more than 30 Government representatives.  He recalled that by 2010, five years before the target date, the Millennium Development Goal on halving extreme poverty had been attained and 700 million poor people had been lifted out of destitution.  However, there had been uneven progress within and among countries, while 1.2 billion people still lived on less than $1.25 per day, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.  Given the lasting effects of the global economic and financial crisis and the largely jobless recovery, inclusive growth and employment must be at the centre of the new development framework, he stressed.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon agreed, noting that a large number of people in developing countries were trapped in informal, vulnerable jobs with little protection.  Women were particularly affected, bearing the added burden of unpaid care work, while youth unemployment was alarmingly high.  “Employment and decent work have clear connections to every dimension of sustainable development,” he said, pointing out it was linked to food security and gender equality, as well as equitable, inclusive peaceful societies.  Calling for action to provide universal access to jobs and social protection floors, he said that investment in education, skills development and health care would not only help equip people for decent jobs and income, but also boost purchasing power.  Investing in the green economy would create jobs for those most in need, fostering new initiatives on food and water security, promoting renewable energy and stopping global warming.  Moreover, there must be a global push for more and better information about the reality of labour markets because there were insufficient current data on gender and wages, and on the duration, security and quality of employment.

Echoing those concerns, Venezuela’s representative noted that despite moderate economic growth projected for 2013-2014, another 3 million people would be added to the ranks of the jobless in 2014, most of them in developing countries.

Benin’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, called for the preferential treatment of those countries, as well as strong support for microenterprises and small and medium-sized businesses.

Several speakers showcased successful national strategies used to attack the roots of poverty and unemployment, with a particular focus on integrating historically excluded groups like women, youth and minorities, while creating a more even distribution of income and wealth.  For example, Brazil’s “bolsa familia” cash-transfer scheme had lifted 20 per cent of the population out of poverty, that country’s representative said.  The national employment plan had created 17.5 million jobs from 2003 to 2011, slashing urban unemployment by half while cracking down on slave and child labour.

Representatives of Canada and the Netherlands stressed the important role of the private sector, citing World Bank data that showed that it provided more than 90 per cent of jobs in developing countries.  Jobs must be targeted to increase women’s access to income and labour-market productivity, they said.

In the afternoon, the Assembly held a panel discussion on the topic, during which speakers considered how growing inequality undermined sustainable and inclusive economic growth around the world, particularly in developing countries.  Moderated by Marjon Kamara (Liberia), it featured presentations by Errol McLeod, Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister for Labour and Small Micro Enterprise Development; Sebastián Etchemendy, Undersecretary of State for Policies of Employment in Argentina’s Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security; Aeneas Chapinga Chuma, Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Africa at the International Labour Organization (ILO); and Andrew Shepherd, Director of the Overseas Development Institute’s Chronic Poverty Advisory Network.  Discussants included Louise Kantrow of the International Chamber of Commerce and Fay Lyle, Senior Worker Rights Specialist at the Solidarity Centre.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Assembly unanimously elected the Republic of Korea as a member of the Committee for Programme and Coordination effective 23 May 2014 to 31 December 2016.

Making closing remarks on behalf of Assembly President John Ashe was Vice-President Román Oyarzun Marchesi ( Spain).

Also speaking today were cabinet ministers from Paraguay and Trinidad and Tobago, as well as representatives of Bolivia (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), European Union Delegation, Israel, India, Serbia, Russian Federation, China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Malaysia, Switzerland, Lesotho (on behalf of the African States), Haiti, Mongolia, Sweden (on behalf of the Nordic countries), Republic of Korea, Turkey, Indonesia, Egypt, Ireland, Kazakhstan, South Africa, Uruguay, Senegal, Germany, Kyrgyzstan, United Republic of Tanzania and Rwanda.

Background

The General Assembly met today to convene a high-level meeting on achieving poverty eradication through full employment and decent work for all in the post-2015 development agenda.

Statements

MICHEL TOMMO MONTHE, General Assembly Vice-President, said poverty eradication was a matter of urgency, the greatest task facing the international community and it would continue to guide the post-2015 development agenda.  The Millennium Development Goal on poverty eradication was achieved globally in 2010.  Since 1990, 700 million people had been lifted out of extreme poverty.  But progress had been uneven within and among countries.  Approximately 1.2 billion people still lived on less than $1.25 per day, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.  “We must focus on completing the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals and addressing new and emerging challenges,” he said, pointing to high unemployment, rampant underemployment and informal employment, as well as rising inequality in many countries.

Sustained, inclusive and job-rich growth was a prerequisite for reducing poverty, he said.  Given the lasting impact of the global economic and financial crisis, inclusive growth and employment should be at the centre of the new development framework.  Promoting industrial development and economic diversification, as well as growth in agricultural diversity and investments in infrastructure development, could help create more and better jobs, and ultimately reduce poverty.  Greater coherence among macroeconomic, trade and social policies was also important.  He stressed the importance of implementing social protection measures, particularly to support marginalized groups, as well as building the poor’s resilience to natural disasters.  For such transformations to take root, social, economic and political institutions must be inclusive, accountable and promote transparency and participatory decision-making.

SACHA LLORENTTY (Bolivia), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that poverty was an affront to human dignity and eradicating it was the greatest global challenge facing the world today.  To ensure success, the interlinkages between the multidimensional aspects of poverty must take into account each country’s different national circumstances.  The Group strongly believed employment was a leading determinant of social and economic growth and development, and emphasized that it was necessary to address inequalities, both within and between countries, in order to reduce poverty.

He said economic growth must be sustainable, inclusive, and equitable, with an emphasis on full employment and decent work for all, especially the poor, and the ability to generate such employment opportunities was essential.  Despite a decline in the number of working poor, the majority of workers in the developing world remained in informal and vulnerable jobs.  The Group believed that employment objectives must become central to global actions and mechanisms, requiring the international community’s support.  Developed countries should refrain from actions that created barriers to developing countries’ efforts.

AMERICO BEVIGLIA ZAMPETTI, representative of the Delegation of the European Union, said poverty eradication, reduction of inequalities and shared prosperity for all were key parts of the internal and external dimensions of European Union policies.  While substantial progress had been made, the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals had been unevenly distributed, not only between countries but also within countries.  Addressing discrimination and inequalities would also be crucial, while decent work, productive jobs and social protection were key for ensuring basic living standards and driving inclusive and sustainable growth.

The Union also stressed the importance of tackling unemployment, in particular youth unemployment, which had reached unprecedented levels in many countries.  Social protection was at the heart of the European social model, as it could successfully promote higher labour market participation.  Everyone had the right to social security, while the role of trade union and employers’ organizations needed to be given greater recognition.  Special efforts must be made to ensure women’s equal access to employment opportunities and full participation in the labour market.  The Union also stressed the important role that civil society organizations played.

JEAN-FRANCIS RÉGIS ZINSOU ( Benin), speaking on behalf of the least developed countries, said poverty eradication should remain as the first and overarching priority of the post-2015 development agenda.  More than 47 per cent of people in least developed countries lived in extreme poverty, making full employment and decent work through sustained economic growth and productive capacity-building vital.  Inclusive and employment-generating economic growth should include strong support to microenterprises, as well as small and medium-sized, through innovative programmes.  The least developed countries had a longer way to go than others to reach poverty eradication targets, he said, calling for the adoption of a universal principle on differential and preferential treatment for that group.

JOSE MOLINAS VEGA, Minister Executive Secretary of the Technical Planning Secretariat of Paraguay, said the “bar for well-being” should be raised and concerted efforts accelerated towards poverty eradication.  Investing in early childhood development and education must focus on a child’s first 1,000 days, as well as on eradicating illiteracy.  Promoting creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation in society should be central in the education system, and those efforts should be supported by transparent and credible public policies to combat poverty and bolster decent work.  Also important was identifying vulnerable groups and building political solidarity at national and international levels.

ERROL MCLEOD, Minister for Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development of Trinidad and Tobago, expressed his commitment to achieving prosperity for all through people-centred development so that no one was left behind.  As a small island developing State, Trinidad and Tobago was committed to inclusive growth, sustainable employment and quality jobs.  It had embraced the decent work agenda and its four pillars of job creation, rights at work, social protection and social dialogue, with gender equality as a cross-cutting objective.  Issues related to employment, income, social protection and rights at work must be a common goal.  He backed the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) call to include full employment and decent work as a goal in the post-2015 development agenda.

AMIRAM MAGID ( Israel) said that the Millennium Development Goals proved the world had the power to change the realities of poverty.  No country — rich or poor — could afford to waste its human resources.  Unemployment was surely the greatest waste and generating jobs was the most direct way to combat extreme poverty.  Societies paid a steep price for unemployment, as it strained economies and social protection systems, while forcing the very young into work rather than school.  Youth employment posed the most recognizable risk, particularly as criminal activities tempted the young, which had a negative impact on the social fabric of societies.  Providing high-quality, relevant education was a critical factor for improving employment prospects for youth.  Investing in promoting women’s employment was also critical.  Research showed that when women earned an income, they invested heavily in their children’s school and health, creating a positive ripple effect across communities.

ASOKE KUMAR MUKERJI ( India) said even though impressive global gains had been seen over the last decade, 1.3 billion people still remained mired in poverty.  Poverty eradication must remain the overall objective as the world prepared the post-2015 development agenda.  Full and productive employment was the surest way to give people power over their destiny.  Unfortunately, the fragile recovery from the global financial crisis and economic challenges at national levels were hampering progress in that area.  At national levels, Governments should focus on areas that included small and medium-sized enterprises, rural development and infrastructure initiatives, which could be a source of job creation.  Further, global trade, investment and finance rules must help to bolster those efforts.  The post-2015 agenda must ensure adequate policy space for developing countries to pursue industrialization.

KATARINA LALIĆ SMAJEVIĆ ( Serbia) said her country had seen gains in areas including maternal and child mortality rates, yet discrepancies persisted.  Even though Serbia attained the target of halving poverty in 2008, since then unemployment and inactivity remained the main challenges.  Clear long-term plans and sustainable solutions should be applied in a coordinated manner.  “No Government can achieve this complex goal on its own,” she said.  “Its achievement depends on strong partnership between civil society, private sector, media and others.”  It was also crucial to identify the right indicators in the post-2015 period, which should be bolstered by open consultations with partners that could help shape the new development agenda.

DMITRY I. MAKSIMYCHEV ( Russian Federation) said poverty eradication was vital for achieving sustainable development.  The proportion of people living in dire poverty had reached record lows, but progress was uneven.  Global efforts must be strengthened to help those left behind.  His Government was committed to actively participate in global cooperation related to decent work and labour issues and to implementing the decent work agenda within the ILO framework.  There must be stronger coordination among key partners, including United Nations agencies and leading international and regional organizations.  He called on countries to enact comprehensive structural macroeconomic reforms and policies that would improve living standards and create decent working conditions.  His Government was gradually increasing its official development assistance (ODA) for projects in food security, education, health care, industrial infrastructure, environmental protection and good governance.  It also was helping to ease the external debt burden of least developed countries.  In 2013, it had provided $610 million in ODA.

GUILHERME DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA ( Brazil) said decent work was a fundamental policy tool because it provided income security and social protection.  Economic expansion and market forces alone could not reduce poverty or create decent jobs.  Countries must enact strong social, economic and environmental policies and create the fiscal space needed to increase social expenditures, particularly for women, minorities, the elderly and the disabled.  One fifth of Brazil’s population had been lifted out of poverty and had joined the growing middle class, thanks to Government initiatives like the “bolsa familia” cash transfer scheme.  In 2007, his Government had adopted a national plan for employment and decent work to tackle the structural drivers of inequality and poverty, and it had expanded social protection coverage, especially in rural areas.  The national plan aimed to generate more jobs, eradicate slave and child labour, and strengthen social dialogue as a tool of democratic governance.  From 2003 to 2011, 17.5 million jobs were created in Brazil, a 50 per cent increase in nine years.  Unemployment in major urban areas had decreased from 11.6 per cent to 5.5 per cent over the same period.  Brazil and the ILO had launched the “Decent work before and after 2014:  fair games, fair play” initiative.

LU MEI ( China) said eradicating poverty was linked to the right to life and development and was a priority concern to all States.  The post-2015 agenda should continue to adopt poverty eradication and development as its core.  Many people remained in extreme poverty and the international community needed to take a number of steps, including helping developing countries in their efforts with specific targets that had been set for poverty eradication.  Promoting employment should be the driving force to boost economic growth and States should adopt strategies to do so.  An enabling environment must also be created for developing countries to enable them to lift people out of poverty.  While China had halved its poor population ahead of the Millennium Development Goal schedule, 100 million people still lived in poverty, she said, noting that her country would continue working towards eliminating poverty.

MD. MUSTAFIZUR RAHMAN ( Bangladesh) said full employment and decent work were critical to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  Current targets did not take into account productive capacity.  As the post-2015 development agenda was being shaped, they should contain targets for productive capacity that should clearly link infrastructure development with economic growth.  Given that least developed countries were expected to see the doubling of their populations to 1.8 billion in 2050, those States needed special attention to lift their populations out of poverty.  To do so, investments must be made in skill-based training and education.  In addition, fair access to markets and flexible immigration policies were among the essential elements needed to eradicating poverty.

MASOOD KHAN ( Pakistan) said OXFAM had noted that the 85 richest people in the world had wealth equivalent to that of 3.5 billion people.  The gap between rich and poor had continued to widen.  Eradicating poverty was the international community’s biggest challenge and, in the post-2015 era, a holistic approach was critical.  High growth, with inclusive policies, had a decisive impact on poverty reduction.  He strongly endorsed the link between decent work and reducing poverty.  Without poverty reduction, the other Millennium Development Goals would not be achieved.  Global determination was needed to eradicate extreme poverty.  Also crucial was to address deprivations through a holistic agenda, a global framework for promoting economic growth, strong emphasis on job creation, and constructing social floors and social welfare frameworks.

GUILLERMO RISHCHYNSKI ( Canada) said growth must feature prominently in the post-2015 development agenda, and it must be inclusive, focused on the poor, sustainable and job-rich.  More and better work and higher earnings was the way out of poverty, and job creation must be central to the sustainable development goals.  It was necessary to create quality and decent jobs that spurred growth and competitiveness, with a particular focus on women and young people, which were disproportionately affected by unemployment.  It was also necessary to eradicate work-related abuse, he said, calling for an end to child labour and the inclusion of that priority in the next development agenda.  An enabling environment for private-sector growth was also vital.  According to the World Bank, 90 per cent of jobs in developing countries were created in the private sector.  Targets must be set for establishing a fiscally conducive climate, rule of law, open markets and free trade, and basic social protection systems.  Jobs must be targeted to increase women’s access to income, and production systems must be cleaner and more efficient.

HUSSEIN HANIFF ( Malaysia) said much remained to be done to address uneven progress to help more than 1 billion people currently living in extreme poverty.  For its part, Malaysia had successfully implemented poverty reduction programmes, meeting the Millennium Development Goal in that area.  Pro-poor strategies, social services and land reform were among the tools being used.  Moving forward, the Government was focussing on disadvantaged groups, as there were pockets of communities living without electricity, water supplies and health services.  The Government recognized that women played an important role in poverty eradication and programmes targeting them were being implemented.  Also, Malaysia was developing a multidimensional poverty index in an effort to eradicate poverty in a holistic manner.

OLIVIER MARC ZEHNDER ( Switzerland) said that despite economic growth playing a major role in eradicating poverty, the values of decent employment went well beyond the economic dimension and that promoting social peace and cohesion should be included in the post-2015 development goals.  Implementing international labour standards through the ILO should be encouraged to ensure decent work for all, including migrant workers.  Forced or mandatory labour, child labour and other exploitative practices must be eliminated.  The ILO’s recommendation on social protection provided useful guidance and should include the gender perspective.  Direct links between education and employment also needed to be recognized as ways to promote sustainable economic growth.

KELEBONE MAOPE (Lesotho), speaking on behalf of the African States, said that according to the African Union Commission and Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), more than 70 per cent of Africans earned their living from vulnerable employment as economies depended heavily on the production and export of primary commodities.  Investments remained concentrated in capital-intensive extractive industries, with few links to the rest of the economy.  Economic diversification and creation of value chains linking raw material producers to end-users were vital to reduce inequalities in Africa.  In that regard, industrialization and structural transformation must be promoted.  Job creation required sustained economic growth.  Industrial development in Africa could be achieved by increasing manufacturing value added at a higher rate than population growth and by increasing the share of manufacturing value-added in gross domestic product (GDP).

Reducing the number of poor people in sub-Saharan Africa had proved difficult for almost a decade, he went on.  The share of workers in vulnerable employment was almost 80 per cent, and they lacked the resilience to economic shocks and other socioeconomic challenges.  He expressed deep concern over high youth unemployment.  Education and training policies should aim to support youth’s economic development.  It was also critically important to invest in rural development as a viable poverty eradication strategy.

ASTRIDE NAZAIRE ( Haiti) said the recent financial crisis and its negative impact on employment had illustrated the need for strong policies to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development.  In the last three years, the Haitian Government had taken steps to ensure social protection, combat hunger, and increase revenue.  It was determined to enact transformative changes and achieve poverty eradication, full employment and decent work.  A robust private sector fuelled by long-term financial investment was needed to reach that goal.  For the first time, Haiti’s Government had leaders from the business community.  Noting the international community’s “handouts” to Haiti in the last few decades had not succeeded in combating its socioeconomic ills, she said her Government had launched an appeal to attract investors and entrepreneurs.  Its top priorities were education and health care, she said, adding that tackling income inequality and environmental damage required a stronger State regulatory role.

OD OCH ( Mongolia) said as the deadline to reach the Millennium Development Goals approached, the most off-track targets should be the starting point for the post-2015 agenda.  Poverty eradication should be at the centre, especially since the world economy was likely to create only half the jobs needed to reach pre-financial crisis rates and that right now, 75 million youth were unemployed.  Both the quantity and quality of jobs must be the focus.  For Mongolia’s part, the decline in poverty in recent years was rooted in targeted Government programmes that aimed at creating a skilled workforce.  Still, more needed to be done to further address poverty-related issues.  Looking ahead, he said full employment and decent work for all should be a top priority for the new development agenda.

MÅRTEN GRUNDITZ ( Sweden), speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries ( Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), said the Millennium Goals’ successes were marred by persistent poverty and unreached goals.  Poverty eradication must be at the heart of the sustainable development agenda.  “A job and an income is the primary route out of poverty,” he said.  Job creation required economic policies that deliberately aimed at promoting employment-intensive investments and employability of all women and men.  Access to reliable infrastructure was essential and would create jobs and economic growth.  Social protection and gender equality were also important, as no country could afford to deny women their rights to participate in economic life.  The post-2015 goals would show the world’s political will to create decent work and social protection, to reduce inequalities and to eradicate extreme poverty.

HAHN CHOONGHEE (Republic of Korea) said as the number of people living in extreme poverty approached 1.2 billion, while significant inequalities related to income, gender, ethnicity, disability, age and location hampered progress to eradicate poverty overall.  Since poverty was multidimensional, progress towards eliminating it was linked to other focus areas, including economic growth, education, health, gender equality and governance.  Despite conventional wisdom, growth did not necessarily guarantee more and better jobs.  For employment to substantively contribute to poverty eradication, the international community needed to encourage economic growth that not only increased job opportunities, but also enhanced the quality of jobs.  Also important was to increase focus on the “creative economy”, with a view towards quality job creation.  By harnessing each country’s unique cultural assets and creativity, States could benefit from the creation of high-quality and value-added employment opportunities.

HAKAN KARAÇAY ( Turkey) said his country was committed to efforts to eradicate poverty and create a sustainable future for all.  Creating decent jobs was essential for poverty eradication.  Sound macroeconomic policies that took into account investment and financing needs were important drivers for growth.  Sustainable economic growth and trade could contribute to global security.  Promotion of full employment and good quality jobs, with an emphasis on youth and women, adequate social protection and job training were vital.  Increased investment in clean energy, industrial production, education, manufacturing, services, agriculture and transport were vital for the post-2015 development agenda.

DESRA PERCAYA ( Indonesia) said creation of sustained employment was essential for reducing poverty and inequality.  Employment also enabled access to education and health services.  The future development agenda must set as a goal employment for decent work.  That must include the implementation of development strategies conducive to education, increasing support for the private sector, strengthening public employment and services, and creating a harmonious environment for employees.  He stressed the need to mainstream job creation into global macroeconomic policy.  The goal on employment must be linked to social protection agendas.  The Rio+20 document outlined that issue.  An adequate social protection system helped to reinforce adequate growth and promote social cohesion and equity.

OSAMA ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD ( Egypt) said the importance of sustained, inclusive economic growth could not be overemphasized, especially given that the prospects to achieve poverty-reduction Millennium targets by the 2015 deadline were bleak.  Much more needed to be done to remedy existing ills, including widespread unemployment and financial imbalances, he said, adding that measures could include debt restructuring and international trade expansion with the removal of trade barriers to allow broader market access.  Reinforcing job creation and decent work were crucial to addressing poverty, he said, noting that youth unemployment needed particular attention.  Poverty eradication should be at the centre of the new development goals, and successful pursuit of national policies to address those issues should be bolstered by support from the international community, he said.

DAVID DONOGHUE ( Ireland) said the employment and decent work challenges should include protections for workers.  The post-2015 agenda should build on the foundations of the Millennium Development Goals and address unfinished business.  Achieving poverty eradication required progress in such areas as food security and peace and security.  A broad approach was needed that included a focus on vulnerable groups unable to participate in the education and employment sectors.  The new development goals should also focus on equal access to education for all and should ensure gender equality and equity.  Women’s reproductive health and rights must also be respected, he said, adding that targets also were needed for farmers and their livelihoods.

KAIRAT ABDRAKHMANOV ( Kazakhstan) said that the Kazakh President had focused attention on Thursday on an anti-crisis conference aimed at reducing inequality.  Despite widespread poverty, the people of the world had great dynamism and vitality.  He urged the international community to depoliticize relations in order to avoid man-made conflict and to strengthen collective capacity to fuel the world’s growth potential.  Kazakhstan was committed to working with the United Nations and the World Bank to create a global platform conducive for poverty eradication.  At the national level, his Government had developed the “ Kazakhstan 2050” long-term development road map.  Kazakhstan was ready to share its success stories and best practices with other countries in order to achieve poverty eradication.

PINKIE MOLEKO, Deputy Director for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, said more must be done to reduce poverty as many countries still faced challenges to eradicating it, as well as inequality and unemployment.  Poor communities dependent on agriculture were the most affected.  Agriculture was the mainstay of many African economies and it was vital for poverty eradication and job creation.  The continent had the potential to feed itself, eliminate poverty, and contribute significantly to the global food market.  Therefore, it was imperative that global plans took into account the specific conditions and challenges in areas where agriculture was the main economic activity.  Poverty eradication programmes must be scaled up to reach the poorest, most marginalized groups, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.  African nations had declared 2014 the “Year of Agriculture in Africa” to expedite the drive for food security, he said.  That required the international community’s support for such initiatives such as the Comprehensive Agricultural Development Programme and the commitments made at the L’Aquila Summit.  South Africa’s national development plan was a blueprint for reducing poverty, creating employment and reducing inequality by 2030.

CRISTINA CARRION ( Uruguay) said the concept of absolute poverty did not reflect today’s global realities.  Poverty was multidimensional and, as such, it should be at the centre of the new development goals.  Women were often underrepresented in the formal work sector and should be targeted in efforts to create decent jobs for all.  Although young people were genuine “national capital”, they were facing uncertain futures, with a lack of decent work, which was perpetuating the cycle of poverty through generations.  Migrant workers needed to be fully integrated in society, she continued, adding that economic growth should accompany social inclusion, with programmes that resulted in an inclusive society.

PIERRE FAYE (Senegal), associating himself with African States and the Group of 77 and China, said that despite the considerable progress that had been achieved in attaining the Millennium Development Goals, there were still pessimistic signs regarding efforts to eliminate poverty worldwide.  Managing unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, would require bold steps.  The youthful profile of Senegal’s population represented a unique problem, as did the country’s largely rural landscape.  Employment was a key element to reducing the risks of poverty, with its contribution to wealth redistribution.  Low-paying and unstable jobs undermined the quality of life for workers and increased their vulnerability.

STEPHANIE KAGE (Germany), associating herself with the European Union, said great progress had been achieved with regard to the Millennium Development Goals, but gains made in reducing extreme poverty were not yet sufficient.  The fact that some 1.3 billion people still suffered from hunger was “unacceptable”.  The post-2015 agenda should reinforce the international community’s commitment to poverty reduction and should include elements that addressed the importance of sustainable development. Germany placed a strong emphasis on employment, including full and productive employment and decent work for men and women alike, with particular attention to the most vulnerable groups.  Her delegation supported social dialogue, which was essential for people’s empowerment and participation.  Germany’s development partnerships had achieved positive results through measures such as vocational education and training and labour-demand interventions, including promotion of the private sector with the aim of creating new jobs.

TALAIBEK KYDYROV ( Kyrgyzstan) said his Government had taken comprehensive measures to implement the Millennium Development Goals.  The national strategy for sustainable development entailed a human-centred approach to reduce poverty, and ensure education opportunities and good health care.  Agriculture was the mainstay of the economy, generating over 30 per cent of the country’s GDP.  He added that Kyrgyzstan, as a mountainous country, needed strong systems to sustain natural disasters.   The Government had set up programmes to empower women in the work force, causing their unemployment to drop from 63 per cent in 2009 to 23 per cent in 2014.  The Government also was focused on increasing rural productivity and employment in the countryside, while reducing environmental degradation.  Kyrgyzstan had achieved three of the Millennium Development Goals, including the first target of reducing extreme poverty.

KAREL JAN GUSTAAF VAN OOSTEROM ( Netherlands), associating with the European Union’s statement, said jobs and employment must be top post-2015 priorities.  Over 80 per cent of households that escaped extreme poverty had done so because a household member had gotten a job.  Growth must be linked to higher productivity in the labour market.  Private enterprise provided more than 90 per cent of jobs in the developing world, the speaker said, adding that businesses could play a crucial role in poverty eradication and sustainable development.  Jobs must be decent, secure, safe and fairly paid, and promoting decent work and standards helped formalize jobs in the informal sector.  Women should have the same economic rights as men to inherit property, sign a contract or open a bank account.  Social protection should be part of a wide strategy for sustaining growth and income.  Finally, social protection systems must contribute to Government priorities.

TUVAKO NATHANIEL MANONGI (United Republic of Tanzania), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, said employment must be at the centre of the post-2015 development agenda.  The ILO had unique foresight with regard to the intersection of employment and poverty reduction, particularly with social protections.  There were proposals that had been put forward that were worth reviewing.  It was not necessary to “reinvent the wheel”.  The United Republic of Tanzania believed that engaging partners beyond States, including civil society, and the promotion of public-private initiatives could be key contributors.  Efforts must also be made to ensure there were concrete deliverables at the end of the process.

JEANNE D’ARC BYAJE ( Rwanda), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said her country believed that a development path that advanced meaningful development activities, including full employment and decent work, was critical.  Progress in that regard would only be possible by addressing the deeply entrenched inequalities that characterized societies today.  The holistic implementation of the sustainable development goals was at the centre of the “future we want”.  Access to jobs and increased wages were the cornerstone to development, particularly as they were linked to living standards.  Special attention needed to be paid to countries that were emerging from conflict.  Unemployment and poverty reduction issues were complex, yet critical to peace, security and sustainable development.

CRISTIANE ENGELBRECHT SCHADTLER ( Venezuela), associating with the Group of 77, said more than 197 million people were unemployed worldwide.  Despite moderate economic growth projected for 2013-2014, global unemployment was expected to increase again.  In 2013, 202 million people were unemployed, which was expected to increase by 3 million in 2014, with three quarters of the unemployed living in developing countries.  Job creation was an urgent, pressing need.  Youth unemployment and poor quality employment should be taken into account in the framework of the sustainable development goals.  Development aimed to transform the structure underpinning employment and development, he said, noting that Venezuela had adopted a multidimensional approach to fighting poverty as both an economic problem and a social one, stemming from exclusion, exploitation and inequality.  The focus was to address poverty’s structural causes.  The country also addressed the special needs of women, youth and vulnerable groups, and its social mission programmes had helped to reduce poverty, gradually incorporating historically excluded groups, and creating a more equitable income and wealth distribution.  In light of the global financial crisis, ODA must be maintained.  States should continue to focus on creation of dignified employment and ensure that benefits reached everyone.  Also crucial was reform of the international economic and financial system to ensure it was more balanced and fair.

Panel Discussion

Immediately following the plenary, the Assembly held a panel discussion on “Achieving poverty eradication through full employment and decent work for all in the Post-2015 Development Agenda”.  Moderated by Marjon Kamara, Permanent Representative of Liberia, the discussion featured the following panellists:  Errol McLeod, Minister for Labour and Small Micro Enterprise Development, Trinidad and Tobago; Sebastián Etchemendy, Undersecretary of State for Policies of Employment, Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security, Argentina; Aeneas Chapinga Chuma, Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Africa, International Labour Organization (ILO); and Andrew Shepherd, Director, Chronic Poverty Advisory Network, Overseas Development Institute.  Discussants were Louise Kantrow, International Chamber of Commerce, and Fay Lyle, Senior Worker Rights Specialist, Solidarity Centre.

Mr. MCLEOD said his country was working to reduce poverty through a targeted restructuring of the economy, emphasizing regionally based development, increased access to affordable and adequate social services, and empowerment of the poor and vulnerable.  The Government believed that poverty was directly linked to unemployment, and creating jobs, especially by developing small and microenterprises and cooperatives, provided economic and social empowerment.  Employment creation and employability should be incorporated as integral components of policies and programmes, he said, emphasizing that a rights-based approach to employment would ensure protection for all workers.  Social protection and social dialogue must not be compromised, he added.

Mr. ETCHEMENDY said that despite challenges of the past, unemployment in Afghanistan currently stood at about 7 per cent and the number of people working in the informal sector had dropped considerably.  That shift was the result of direct social dialogue involving the business sector, trade unions and the State.  Laws that punished vulnerable workers, such as those targeting domestic workers, had been reformed, he said, emphasizing that restoring the minimum wage was the main vehicle for social change in Argentina.  Efforts had also been made to promote collective bargaining, which had become an important instrument for allowing business owners and labour organizations to negotiate.  Pension coverage had been expanded and family allowances developed in a manner geared specifically towards families in which the parents worked in the informal sector.

Mr. CHUMA said that Africa had largely been able to withstand the external shocks of the global financial crisis, although recent economic growth had been largely “jobless”, leaving unemployment rates unchanged.  Since the financial crisis, there had also been a rise in inequality, but social dialogue had not increased and migration within the continent remained high.  The special needs of fragile Governments, including the capacity to respond to social strife, should remain a priority, he stressed.  There was rising interest in domestic and regional resource mobilization, which had not yet been maximized, he said, adding that youth unemployment was of particular concern, considering that half of the African population was under the age of 25.

Mr. SHEPHERD said that social assistance was critical to addressing chronic poverty, but other interventions could also be affective.  One of the underlying reasons for chronic poverty was that, over time, the poorest people were losing access to land.  In the past, land had been critical to escaping poverty, but more recently, it was increasingly in short supply.  Individual shocks, such as illness, could also make it difficult for people to break free of chronic poverty, he said.  The eradication of poverty meant more than lifting people out of poverty — it also required targeted campaigns to prevent people from slipping into poverty in the first place.

Ms. KANTROW said the business community had a crucial role to play in the post-2015 development agenda, by harnessing necessary resources and through collaboration with Governments.  Business and social values were inextricably linked, but the basic enabling conditions musts be “right” before any progress could be made.  The solution to the current employment crisis could only come through the business sector.  Emphasizing that unemployment was not the primary challenge, he said the prevalence of informal sector work was detrimental on a multitude of levels, including that of lost tax revenues.  Building consensus among Governments, businesses and civil society was critical to the development of solutions and their successful implementation.

Ms. LYLE said that the narrow focus of the Millennium Development Goal on aid and lack of attention to full employment and decent work had contributed to the expansion of inequality and undermined efforts to end poverty.  Decent work could create the most solid foundation for fighting poverty, but there must be respect for the freedom of association, the right to organize and bargain collectively, the elimination of discrimination and forced labour, and the abolition of child labour.  Universal social protections could address poverty directly and efficiently by providing access to all, she said.

In the ensuing discussion, a representative of Japan said that ending poverty must remain the primary goal of the post-2015 agenda, which must provide an opportunity to ensure a multidimensional approach to poverty eradication.

A representative of South Africa asked whether the panellists felt that the poverty line should be reviewed and raised since the reality, at least in her country, was that $1.25 could not buy much.

Mr. SHEPHERD responded by saying that the poverty line was already under review, although it could be some time before agreement was reached on where the new one should be fixed.

Closing

ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI ( Spain), Vice-President of the General Assembly, delivered a closing statement on behalf of Assembly President John Ashe ( Antigua and Barbuda), saying that the eradication of poverty was the greatest global challenge facing the world today.  Learning from past experiences would be central to building international support and boosting the commitment to poverty reduction and employment in the post-2015 framework.  Poverty should be tackled through employment policies that also promoted decent working conditions, he said, emphasizing that there was a need for more inclusive, equitable and sustainable economic growth that would address inequalities at both the national and international levels.

He said that during today’s meeting, many speakers had pointed out the need for industrial development and economic diversification, growth in agricultural productivity and investment in infrastructure development and the green economy in order to help create more and better jobs.  Others had underlined the importance of quality education, training and skill development in enabling decent employment.  The importance of labour rights, including freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining and equality, as well as the necessity to eradicate child labour and forced labour had also been highlighted throughout the session, he said.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.