HLPF 2023: Sustainable innovation, infrastructure and industry are the only way forward

"Workers need to be at the table to lead innovation that serves social progress and the environment." Liz Shuler, AFL-CiO USA

Trade unions know that building resilient infrastructure, promoting sustainable industrialisation and fostering innovation can be game changers in reducing poverty and inequalities.

But for this to happen, investments in infrastructure and industry need to be based on human rights and development needs, reduce dependency on foreign products in crucial sectors (such as food, energy and medicines) and provide decent jobs with minimum living wages.

Micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises can contribute to employment creation but need to guarantee formalisation of the informal economy.

As innovation and rapid digitalisation are leading to new forms of work, skills development and life-long learning are needed to leave no worker behind. We must also recognise that access to a high-quality and affordable internet connection is a basic right, and advocate for legislation to protect data privacy and the rights of home-based, platform, and remote workers.


  • Increase public sector-led investments in public infrastructure (energy, roads, integrated public transport infrastructure including non-motorised transport, building, machinery and equipment, ports, etc.) with the lowest possible adverse environmental impact to meet development needs and support decent job creation while minimising climate harms.
  • Advance in reforms to increase the share of industry and industrial employment. Increase the participation of state agencies in the allocation of credit, technological development and market expansion.
  • Support micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises and cooperatives to ensure employment retention and the formalisation of the informal economy by implementing the ILO Recommendation 204 on the transition from the informal to the formal economy. Ensure equitable access to financial services for young people, women, migrants and forcibly displaced persons.
  • Implement just transition industrial policies that provide a foundation for national jobs plans and development. Plan and coordinate the decarbonisation of industries through social dialogue, including labour impact assessments (particularly where new technologies are incorporated) while ensuring social security, retraining of workers and decent and climate-friendly jobs in the transformation.
  • Reduce dependency on foreign products in crucial sectors (food, energy, transportation infrastructure, pharmaceutical, etc.) by advancing domestic investments and regional integration.
  • Ensure that industrialisation and structural transformation produce shared outcomes by ensuring minimum living wages, collective bargaining and universal social protection.
  • Increase the value-added content of the exports of primary products.
  • Ensure access to quality and affordable internet and put in place proactive digitalisation policies to increase value added in domestic digital enterprises, govern data and privacy rights, integrate risk assessments and monitoring (before, during and after deployment of new technologies) with appropriate engagement of unions, as well as rules to ensure labour and union rights for home-based, platform and remote workers.
  • Invest in gender-responsive strategies for skills development and life-long learning, especially for youth, to integrate workers in modern productive practices and a green economy. Design and implement national systems of skill certification as well as systems for the recognition of skills and qualifications of migrant workers.
  • Reorganise production activities taking into account the limits of the planet and the objective of a fair distribution of resources, promoting the circular and regenerative economy.


Sustainable innovation, infrastructure
& industry can reduce poverty & inequality.
We need #HumanRights-based investments
w/ DecentJobs #JustTransition, skills &
access to internet as a right


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