Connecting Economy Society and Environment through Decent Work

Date/Location: 17 June 2013; Conference Room E (NLB), United Nations Headquarters

Key speakers: Ambassador André Aranha Correa do Lago (Director-General, Department of Environment and Special Affairs, Ministry of External Relations of Brazil), Jean-Marc Châtaigner (Deputy Director General, Global Affairs, Development and Partnerships, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Tuti W. Irman (Minister-Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the UN), Stephen Pursey (Director of Multilateral Cooperation, International Labour Organisation)

Attended by: Sunny T.C. Hor, Janice H.W. Wong, Mary C.Y. Lam

Images Rights - Shutterstock

Images Rights – Shutterstock

Written by: Sunny T.C. Hor

As the discussion on Sustainable Development Goals progress in the United Nations, this side event of the 4th Session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals explored the challenges and, more importantly, opportunities for decent work and social protection floors as bridges between economic, environmental and social development, drawing from the experiences of three particular countries and the efforts of the International Labour Organisation..

Ms Tuti W. Irman shared the Indonesian experience of sustainable development, pointing out Indonesia’s vision of transforming into sustainable and low-carbon development that encompasses resource efficiency and a green production and consumption pattern. She introduced the pro-growth, pro-environment, pro-employment and pro-poor policies of her government and the current strategy of strengthening the linkage between the three domains of sustainable environment through employment-intensive environmental infrastructure projects, although Indonesia also faces challenges on raising workers from low-productivity to high-productivity sectors.

Focusing on social protection floors, Mr Jean-Marc Châtaigner of France called for the inclusion of social protection floor on the development agenda, stressing that it has a structural role to play in economic development. Also, he noted that social protection floor is distinct from social safety net, which should be for people with specific difficulties and in emergency situations. National and universal agenda should be balanced, he said, in order to take into account the difference in national and regional economic situations. While calling for the international community, including regional and global development banks to support the cause, he said that France will continue to try to champion the extension of social protection floors.

The previously unimaginable achievements of Brazil since democracy was introduced were brought up by Ambassador André Aranha Correa do Lago, who also echoed the importance of social protection floors to development. He explained Brazil’s efforts in pursuing development for all, which he stressed was vital. Democracy, he said, was instrumental in Brazil’s development, as it gave people the opportunity to enjoy more decent lives without having to relocate to another region. Lastly, he also called for developed countries, who created the present production and consumption patterns, to take the lead in generating innovative solutions to foster a new sustainable pattern of production and consumption.

Rounding up the session, Mr Stephen Pursey from ILO explained some principles that countries should adopt: building strong social consensus, emphasis on worker rights and a strong gender dimension. However, there is no one size that fits all. Countries’ efforts need to be common and differentiated: agreeing on global goals but differing from country to country.

Edited By: Wayne Dean Doyle

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