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United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Statements

Deputy Secretary-General: Statements

New York, 30 March 2015 - Deputy Secretary-General's remarks at Economic and Social Council 2015 Integration Segment: Achieving Sustainable Development through Employment Creation and Decent Work For All [as prepared for delivery]


I am honoured to address, on behalf of the Secretary-General, the second Integration Segment of the Economic and Social Council.

And I am pleased to welcome representatives from government, trade unions, civil society and business from all over the world.

Over the next three days, you will be focusing on how to achieve sustainable development through mob creation and decent working conditions for all.

As the Vice-President of the Council has emphasized, this is an enormous, and pressing, challenge for all countries.

It is at the core of our universal agenda to create peaceful, equitable and inclusive societies.  It is at the core of making possible lives in dignity for all in a troubled and turbulent world.

Unemployment and underemployment remain high.

Decent jobs that provide a fair income, good working conditions, access to social protection and freedom of association remain out of reach for too many.

Also, today, many workers in both developed and developing countries continue to be trapped in informal and low-wage jobs.

Furthermore, migrant workers face the risk of exploitation and discrimination.

And women earn less and are more likely than men to be engaged in vulnerable and dangerous jobs.

Workers in informal working arrangements very often lack social protection and are given low incomes and arduous working conditions by which their fundamental rights may be violated.

That is why special consideration must be given to ensure adequate protection for women and young people, as well as for indigenous peoples and people with disabilities.

All these challenges need to be addressed if we are to build an equitable future where extreme poverty is eradicated, people are empowered and opportunity is a reality for all.

The world is caught in an employment crisis.

And our youth are bearing the brunt.

Globally, as many as 73 million young people are looking for work.

They are three times more likely than adults to be jobless.

Many more are trapped in jobs where they are objects of exploitation.

It is imperative that we do more to create jobs for young people.   Their frustration is understandable and undermines belief in government and national institutions.

We must ensure that they get the relevant education and training for “employability”.

This includes supporting young entrepreneurs so that they can thrive and create jobs for others.

We must empower our youth with hope and opportunity.

Working with and for young people has been a high priority of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

He has named an Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, and the High-level Committee on Programmes of the UN Chief Executives Board is currently, under ILO leadership, developing a joint UN initiative on youth employment.

The Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals has built on the MDGs to articulate a new universal and responsive agenda.

One aim is to promote economic growth that is both sustainable and inclusive – growth that provides full and productive employment and decent work for all.

Let me highlight some ways by which we can address this issue.

First, labour-market policies must ensure that women have equal access and opportunities.  They should put a special focus on young people and people with disabilities.

We must ensure that all are provided with adequate compensation for their services and given decent working conditions. 

We must also ensure adequate social protection floors. 

We must reduce wage gaps between women and men, and ensure equal remuneration for work of equal value.

And we need to recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work and not least, promote equal sharing of responsibilities between men and women.

Second, we should invest in a future-oriented and green economy.

Governments and companies can take new productive initiatives on food and water security.

They can promote renewable energy and minimize negative impacts on the environment.

Low-carbon growth can, apart from generating decent jobs, increase food security, improve public health, safeguard essential ecosystems and make cities more resilient.

This transition to a green and modern economy, however, needs well-designed social protection measures to ensure that no-one is left behind.

In conclusion, distinguished Delegates,

We cannot realize sustainable development without making job creation and decent working conditions for all a priority in the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda.

The Secretary-General and I look forward to staying in close contact with you on the way forward for a coherent, effective, equitable approach to achieving these crucially important objectives.

Thank you.


Statements on 30 March 2015