HLPF 2019: ITUC Side event - Stakeholders agree on centrality of SDG 8 in Agenda 2030

The ITUC held an official HLPF side event on Friday 12 July in the premises of the United Nations. During the event, Professor Giovannini presented some preliminary details of the SDG 8 index that the Alleanza Italiana per lo Sviluppo Sostenibile (ASviS) and the ITUC are jointly conducting to foster the tracking of the implementation of SDG 8 worldwide.

It is clear that SDG8 is unlikely to be achieved by 2030 at the current rate of improvement.

- Enrico Giovannini, Spokesperson for ASviS

Trade Unions and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) launched a reflection to identify policy drivers and recommendations that can help governments to implement SDG8 by providing evidence on the current gaps that exist globally.

Professor Enrico Giovannini - University of Rome Tor Vergata and spokesperson of Alleanza Italiana per lo Sviluppo Sostenibile (ASviS), presented some key highlights on the current joint initiative that ASvIS and the ITUC are conducting to foster the tracking of the implementation of SDG 8 worldwide (SDG 8 Index).

Professor Giovannini during his intervention.


Because it integrates several topics related to growth, employment, productivity, working conditions and labor rights, SDG8 is per se a multidimensional goal that plays a pivotal role within the 2030 Agenda. It is essential for the 2030 Agenda to pursue economic growth and full employment without jeopardising the achievement of other targets, such as those related to environmental and climate issues. Given its centrality, reaching SDG8’s targets is vital to guarantee a full and holistic accomplishment of the 2030 ambitions.

Among the first findings of the research, Giovannini hinted at the relation between the level of income and of SDG 8 implementation:

the main message is that the level of income matters but it does not tell you the whole story.

- Enrico Giovannini, Spokesperson for ASviS

The level of income does not impede to rank high in SDG 8 implementation. Low Gross National Income (GNI) per capita countries can also rank high in SDG 8 implementation if they they respect labour rights and social dialogue.

Therefore, the idea that boosting economic growth is the only way to advance on decent work is only an assumption. This because there are many other variables beyond income that make the difference and have to be considered.

Large companies that incorporate sustainability in their business models have an increase of productivity. This means that capitalism needs a change of paradigm.

- Enrico Giovannini, Spokesperson for ASviS

If we are serious in tackling challenges linked to the future of work, life-long learning should be recognised as a universal right at individual level to be part of learning programmes to foster inclusive labour markets.

It is extremely important to improve data collection and data monitoring. This appears to be particularly true for the targets of SDG 8 that are linked to labour rights and working conditions because they are suffering from severe lack of data, such as:

  • Occupational health and safety.
  • Share of Law paid work.
  • Gender pay gap.
  • Labour Inspectors.
  • Informal employment.
  • Collective bargaining coverage rate.

Katinka Weinberger, Chief of Environment and Development Policy at UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific- UNESCAP) highlighted that UNESCAP is working on incorporating indicators on decent work in the regional monitoring of SDGs, despite the data gap on several SDG8 targets. Moreover, she mentioned that UNESCAP is currently undertaking an inclusive review of SDG 8, led by ILO, to sharpen the indicators on the social dimension of the Decent Work Agenda, notably relating to social protection and social dialogue.

Riccardo Mesiano and Katinka Weinberger from UNESCAP show their support to #timefor8.


On the same line, Oliver Chinganya (Director of the African Centre for Statistics of the UN Economic Commission for Africa) acknowledged the difficulty of collecting and comparing data in Africa where only 27 out of 54 countries have comparable data. He described the current work undertaken by UNECA and the African Union to improve labour marker data. In this framework, he expressed UNECA’s interest to use the SDG8 tool proposed by the ITUC and Asvis to improve their monitoring capacity.

Oliver Chinganya said that the UNECA will use the SDG 8 Index.


From the perspective of Latin America and the Caribbean, María Ortíz (Office of the Executive Secretary UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) underlined the key role decent work plays in the fight against inequality, which is widespread in the region. In particular, she highlighted the need to strengthen labour market institutions, while reinforcing access to social protection and adopting more progressive fiscal policies to mobilise the necessary funding.

María Ortíz and ECLAC see decent work as paramount to fight inequality.


Lastly, Vinicius Pinheiro (Special Representative to the United Nations and Director of the ILO) presented some highlights from the last ILO report on SDG 8 implementation, which shows that progress on SDG8 is still too slow. Pinheiro highlighted the usefulness of the ITUC Campaign #timefor8 to call for accelerated action and to keep momentum on the urgency of promoting decent work.

Vinicius Pinheiro praised the usefulness of #timefor8.


Several interventions, including from the European Commission, highlighted the role of social dialogue in making the difference when it comes to SDG 8 implementation. Participants hinted further at the importance of shifting from a cost-mentality to an investment-approach on such important themes as occupational health and safety and wages; women’s participation; care economy; the importance of translating the Agenda2030’s vision into concrete policies and budget lines; the leading role of youth; the link between technology and employment; and the need to invest in training and education.

In his closing remarks, Mamadou Diallo (ITUC, Deputy General Secretary) stressed the imperative to tackle persistent decent work deficits. ITUC’s Campaign #timefor8https://timefor8.org and its message on the need to accelerate action towards the implementation of SDG 8, are part of the trade union movement’s call for a New Social Contract.

Paola Simonetti and Mamadou Diallo calling for a New Social Contract.