GPEDC HLM2 Plenary - Our Shared Future: Achieving Prosperous Business, Thriving Society, and a Healthy Environment

The SDGs SDGs The Sustainable Development Goals were one of the outcomes of the Rio+20 Conference. The members States launched a new set of future international development goals, which will build upon the Millennium Development Goals and converge with the post-2015 development agenda. explicitly acknowledge the interconnectedness of the prosperity of business, a flourishing society and the health of the environment. Few companies can thrive unless the countries in which they operate are thriving. And no country has significantly improved people’s lives without the driving force of a vibrant economy. This session emphasised the role of dialogue between the different development actors.

The session began with an airing of Equal Times’ video on Rwandan moto-taxi drivers (see below)

Julius Cainglet, Deputy Secretary General of the Federation of Free Workers, The Philippines

Began by reminding participants that businesses are driven by profit, a fundamental consideration when engaging with it. Mr Cainglet further stressed that the private sector has a privileged relationship with many states in comparison to other groups who don’t benefit from the same visibility.

The labour movement aims to redress this imbalance but was faced with a challenging situation as businesses have a significant bargaining advantage, explained Mr Cainglet. In The Philippines, the labour movement experienced the threat of businesses withdrawing from investments. A very recent example of this occurred just one month ago with the announcement of the Minister for Trade and Investment that 30,000 jobs would be lost if the labour movement pursues its commitment to ending precarious work through specific legislation. Of course, if nothing is done, the consequences of dangerous conditions continue to harm the lives of working people.

Mr Cainglet went on to point out that governments have the responsibility of consulting these two sectors in order to come to a legitimate and informed decisions. In light of this, formal social dialogue between governments, labour and the private sector provides a decision-making tool. This “time-tested technology enriched through the practice of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) that puts into motion exchange of information and ideas in meetings, discussions and eventually decisions made by tri-partite partners themselves, the “social partners” meaning workers through their unions, employers through their organisations and government”. Mr Cainglet continued by summarising some results at national level in The Philippines where social dialogue is the basis of the Tripartite Industrial Peace Council which further to the advantages outlined above, takes into consideration the ratification of relevant ILO conventions.

Mr Cainglet went on to highlight the ITUC/TUDCN Global Partnership Initiative on Social Dialogue in Development that aims to promote the role social dialogue in achieving the Busan Principles of Effective Development.

Gwen Hines, Director of International Relations at the Department for International Development (DFID)

Stated that not all business is positive for development and that not everybody is as responsible as they should be, but that there was a cause for optimism and that there are good examples out there in which jobs are created and poverty reduced. Ms Hines further highlighted the need to work to tackle issues of modern slavery and child exploitation in the supply chains.

Salah Goss, President for International Development, MasterCard Corporation

Stated the importance of dialogue between different actors. Ms Salah stressed that it was vital to have clear motives for the engagement of actors. Trust in the core competences of different actors was important. Ms Goss also highlighted that partnerships should be needs-driven: that the different partners understand that they serve the same goals and that they serve them better together than apart.

Princess Abze Djigma, CEO of AbzeSolar, Burkina Faso

Commended the example in the video on Rwanda’s informal sector and highlighted the importance of bringing in people in from the informal sector as it represents sizeable part of the economy in certain countries (45% in Burkina Faso).

Lilianne Ploumen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, The Netherlands

Suggested that the focus should be placed on how to translate the good intentions into actions. Ms Ploumen began by highlighting the need for a space where the different actors can have a conversation about what works in partnerships and what doesn’t, encouraging governments to step up and work with trade unions and the business sector to make sure that the jobs created are decent jobs.

For more on Trade Unions’ participation in the HLM2, click here