Zimbabwe trade unions engaging institutional actors on SDG implementation

The Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ) and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) recently organised a National Stakeholders Conference on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

By Naome Chakanya, Senior Researcher, LEDRIZ (Zimbabwe) @LEDRIZIM

The conference took place in Harare on 1-2 November 2017 and counted with the support of ILO ACTRAV Office and ILO Harare Office. The conference’s main objectives were to:

  • Provide a national dialogue platform for learning and sharing on the role of various national stakeholders in mainstreaming SDGs in national processes and national development plans and policies;
  • Enhance knowledge and capacitates of trade unions on SDGs, especially SDG 8, and the ILO’s Future of Work Initiative and their interlinkage with the ILO Decent Work Agenda;
  • Explore entry points for trade unions for effective engagement national SDGs processes;
  • Developing trade union priorities for the upcoming Decent Work Country Programme for Zimbabwe (2018-21) in line with the SDGs.

The conference’s 39 participants were drawn from the various Ministries responsible for the implementation of the SDGs, the ILO ACTRAV Office-South Africa, ILO Harare Office, trade unions, UNDP, UN-Women, members of Parliament and employers organisations. LEDRIZ presented its background paper entitled The SDGs: A Pathway Towards Inclusive Economic Development and Promotion of Decent Work: Challenges, Opportunities and Future Prospects. The paper was commissioned by ILO Harare Office and ACTRAV Office. It articulates a situational analysis of the state of selected SDGs and links them to the four pillars of the Decent Work Agenda (employment creation, workers’ rights, social protection and social dialogue).

The first day of the conference was dedicated to knowledge-sharing. Key stakeholders had the opportunity to share their work on the SDGs. In their opening remarks, the ZCTU emphasised that the SDGs presented a developmental framework for reinforcing the Decent Work Agenda (DWA), especially SDG 8, and that the ZCTU and its affiliates have been pursuing the DWA for a long time. The ZCTU also highlighted that the 2030 Agenda provides a framework for integrating the ILO’s Future of Work (FoW) initiative as well as addressing the various socio-economic challenges that were crippling the economy of Zimbabwe. Given that Zimbabwe will this year develop its fourth generation of the Decent Work Country Programme for Zimbabwe (DWCP-Z), the trade unions emphasised that the conference provided the ILO and its social partners with a guiding framework critical for developing priority areas of the DWCP-Z expected to be implemented from 2018 to 2021.

Ms. Hopolang Phororo, Director of the ILO Country Office for Zimbabwe and Namibia, underscored the need for the ILO’s social partners to have a deeper understanding of the SDGs, especially of SDG 8 as it informed ILO’s mandate and purpose of social justice in order to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth and development.

Ms. Inviolata Chinyangarara of ILO ACTRAV also shared on the ILO’s Future of Work (FoW) Initiative and its interlinkage with the SDGs and transformative change that the world of work is undergoing, driven by technological developments.

Overall, the five key emerging issues from all the presentations were that:

  1. The Ministries invited trade unions to fully participate in future initiatives on the implementation of the SDGs;
  2. The UNDP and UN Women Offices support the Government’s integration of the SDGs into the national development plans and policies, setting up dialogue structures as well as undertaking awareness raising and advocacy for regional coordinators, parliament, CSOs, youth, women and the private sector. Emphasis was placed on supporting the national statistical agency (ZIMSTAT) in an effort to generate relevant and up-to-date data on the SDGs;
  3. Trade unions should align their plans and strategies to SDGs, continuously undertake evidence-based research and analysis and increase participation in national processes for the implementation and monitoring of the SDGs. This will ensure that their participation in tripartite consultation meetings is informed by the SDGs and are able to negotiate with the government and employers on the national priorities and outcomes;
  4. Opportunities for trade union engagement existed in participation in the priority / thematic SDG areas coordinated by the Ministries, monitoring and provision of data, participation in the on-going national developmental plans and SDG roll out programmes spearheaded by the Ministry of Macroeconomic Planning and Investment Promotion as well as bilateral and sectoral dialogues;
  5. Potential role of ZCTU and trade unions lied in engaging with national processes; integration of SDG indicators in trade union strategies and monitoring and evaluation frameworks, mainstreaming SDGs in decent work programmes and cascading information to general membership through development of an SDG communication strategy.

Furthermore, the needs of effective consultation were explored as well as that of depoliticising national policy development processes and implementation so that all stakeholders can freely engage in government policy formulation processes. The conference ended with ZCTU developing SDG action plan. The plan focused on two main areas. The first area focused on identifying SDGs which were of priority to the trade unions and workers vis a vis the Government’s SDGs priorities. In this regard, five SDGs were prioritised (SDGs 5, 8, 10, 13 and 16). Strategies were developed for each of the priority SDG. The second area of focus of the action plan was centred on how trade unions can enhance their effective participation within the existing government’s and UN Agencies’ SDGs processes and structures.

A full report of the event will be published and made available here soon.

See Naome Chakanya talk about the work of trade union on the SDGs:

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