Placing social justice and decent work for all at the heart of pandemic recovery will enable the G20 to help shape a future where the world of work works for all – and contributes to peace worldwide
This year’s G20 summit is taking place at a time when the world of work is still recovering from the Covid-19 crisis, while at the same time confronting new and serious challenges.
The employment outlook for the rest of 2022 and 2023 remains clouded by growing downside risks, and the International Labour Organization expects the number of hours worked globally to remain significantly lower in 2022 than pre-pandemic levels. For most people – particularly in low- and middle-income countries – labour incomes have not recovered to where they were. At the same time, inflation and interest rates are expected to remain high.
Taken together, this means that the prospects for the purchasing power and standard of living of workers worldwide are deeply concerning. Increases in the prices of necessities, notably food and fuel, hurt poor households the most. And after two years of pandemic, many countries – and particularly the lower-income ones – have limited fiscal space left to cushion these blows on their people.
Reduced purchasing power also means reduced demand, which puts businesses under strain. Many are facing challenges caused by disruptions to their supply chains. This situation has knock-on implications for economic growth – and so for employment.
Risking broader instability
There is a clear risk that the tensions created by this situation will evolve into broader instability.
G20 members are faced with the complex challenge of providing effective and timely support for workers and their families while encouraging productive and quality employment creation and, simultaneously, tackling climate change.
We will need to reinvigorate our collective efforts to address these interrelated and mutually reinforcing crises. We must undertake the far-reaching transformations that are required. And we must ensure that the benefits of recovery are equitably shared, within and between countries.
Previous G20 summits have already established ambitious and important targets related to the delivery of a better, more equitable, world of work. The Brisbane goal aims to reduce the gender gap in labour market participation by 25% by 2025, and the Antalya goal commits to reduce the proportion of young people not in employment, education or training by 15% by 2025.
However, the Covid-19 crisis has undone much of the hard-won progress made on these two goals. We will need to redouble our efforts to ensure that women and young people can fully and equally participate in the labour market, with quality employment and decent working conditions.
All these efforts require a focus on longer‑term transformative approaches, underpinned by rights at work and backed by appropriate investment. But success will support recovery and be a step along the road towards a more equitable, sustainable and peaceful future.
Elements for success
An essential element for success will be placing social justice and decent work for all at the heart of our recovery strategy.
To this end, the Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection for Just Transitions, coordinated by the ILO as part of a United Nations–wide effort, can play an important role. It aims to ensure the necessary policy support and financing to create 400 million jobs and extend social protection to the four billion people who currently lack coverage.
The Global Accelerator has the potential to bring together the entire multilateral system, and move us from a position of simply reacting to crises to proactively anticipating and managing the different transitions that are underway – environmental, social and economic.
The support of the G20 leaders for the Global Accelerator would be an important and timely step forward and would be in line with existing commitments to shape a human-centred, inclusive and sustainable future of work, both in G20 members and around the world.
At this challenging time it is essential that we seize the initiative. We must shape the future so that it delivers a better, more equitable and sustainable world of work that will also contribute to lasting peace.