SDG Summit 2023: The ITUC brings workers’ demands to high-level discussions

The ITUC participated in a series of high-level events organised as part of the United Nations’ Summit on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG Summit), held in New York from 18 to 19 September.

As multiple crises continue to inflict a devastating toll on workers worldwide, the SDG Summit assembled world leaders and key stakeholders to review the outlook for the 2030 Agenda and discuss next steps. The ITUC engaged in key debates, conveying worker’s calls for a renewed multilateralism for a New Social Contract with SDG 8 at its core.

Preceding the SDG Summit, on 17 September, ITUC Acting General Secretary Luc Triangle participated in the SDG Acceleration Day, a session dedicated to the Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection for Just Transitions. This ILO-led UN-initiative aims to create 400 million new jobs and expand social protection to over 4 billion people as part of just transition, by mobilising additional leadership and investment toward the SDGs. Luc Triangle stressed the ITUC’s support of this initiative.

“The Global Accelerator sets out ambitious objectives. But to make them a reality, these objectives need strengthened financial support and the engagement of social partners,” said Luc Triangle.

On 18 September, at the high-level dialogue on equal pay organised by the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC), Luc Triangle criticised the continuing systemic discrimination of working women globally. He underscored that “women are often stuck in low-paid jobs, exacerbating inequality,” and stressed that "closing the gender pay gap is central in achieving social and economic justice for women. Equal pay for work of equal value is enshrined in Goal 8 and is central to the New Social Contract that the global labour movement is calling for."

On 19 September, Luc Triangle participated in the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit, where he highlighted the key role played by social dialogue in establishing living wages that meet workers’ needs and stressed that living wages are central to achieving sustainable development. “Living wages must take into account the cost of living and be grounded in social dialogue. Moreover, they should be part of due diligence efforts by companies,” he added.

On the same day, ITUC Equality Director Paola Simonetti participated in the Global Alliance for Care’s “Moving Towards a New Care Paradigm” meeting. At the high-level event, [she underlined the importance of investing in the care economy>]] as part of fostering gender equality worldwide and sustainable development. She conveyed the ITUC’s position on care, which calls for increased public investments in the care sector, the adoption of care policies, and the assurance of decent work for all care workers.

SDG Summit Declaration
The ITUC followed the negotiation process of the SDG Summit Declaration until its final adoption on 19 September, pushing for key workers’ demands to be included.

The Declaration expresses a commitment to create conditions for decent work for all and for equal pay for work of equal value. In addition, it acknowledges the role of decent jobs and social protection in achieving gender equality, and it also reflects workers’ calls for reforming the international financial architecture and expanding the participation of developing countries in global economic governance.

The Declaration also expresses political support for ambitious agreements at the 2024 Summit of the Future and the 2025 World Social Summit, as well as for the Global Accelerator.

Trade unions remain concerned over questions on how governments intend to bridge the gap between internationally agreed declarations and their implementation at a national level. Governments urgently need to step up their commitments to deliver on the 2030 Agenda if they are to make tangible headway.

However, stronger accountability mechanisms are essential for any future agenda on sustainability. Trade unions, therefore, call for the development of more inclusive multilateral frameworks, including social dialogue and tripartism to ensure the active and meaningful participation of workers in the planning, implementation and monitoring of the SDGs at the national level.