HLPF2020: Unions call on governments to invest in Sustainable Development Goal 8

photo: KB Mpofu / ILO

Trade unions are calling on states meeting on the 7 - 16 July at the United Nations High-level Political Forum (HLPF) to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs by giving top priority to Sustainable Development Goal 8. This Goal is a global pledge by governments to deliver decent work, sustainable economic growth and full and productive employment to all by the 2030 deadline for the UN Sustainable Development Agenda.

“SDG 8 provides a wide-ranging and effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic and indeed to the convergence of crises already evident before COVID appeared. It contains targets on decent work, occupational health and safety, social protection, inclusive economic growth, equitable distribution of wealth, and environmental preservation. Meeting these targets in the recovery from the massive economic, social and health impacts of the pandemic will build in the resilience needed to surmount the challenges of the crises facing the world and to realise a new social contract,” said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.

The immediate and brutal impacts of the pandemic on jobs and livelihoods reveal the entrenched precarity and inequalities of the failed model of corporate globalisation as millions of people were left without income or any safety net. This has propelled the spread of COVID-19, since many had no choice but to continue working, especially in the informal economy, at risk to their lives and the lives of those around them.

“The ILO Centenary Declaration adopted one year ago promised all workers that their fundamental rights will be respected and that there must be adequate minimum wages, limits on working hours and protection for health and safety at work. Together with the pledge for social protection, the Declaration establishes these as the labour protection floor that is the foundation of the new social contract that the world so evidently needs.

“The new social contract with SDG 8 at its core also means going beyond GDP as the main indicator of economic performance. Vital elements such as the levels of social protection and access to healthcare; Just Transition to achieve zero-carbon economies; democratic rights and freedoms; and transparency and accountability of governments to the people are already being included across the policy frameworks of some governments, and the world needs to follow their lead.

“Our policy paper shows how far away the world is from realising SDG 8, and without it, none of the other Sustainable Development Goals can be reached. This year’s High-level Political Forum is the moment when governments can show the political will to free themselves from the dead hand of corporate capture and chart a course for shared prosperity and a sustainable future,” said Sharan Burrow.

Sign up for the high-level ITUC panel “SDGs Decade of Action: A New Social Contract for recovery and resilience" - 13 July at 08:00-09:00 Eastern Daylight Time (New York time)

Background note: https://www.ituc-csi.org/IMG/pdf/sdgs_decade_of_action_concept_note.pdf

Make the voice of workers heard and take part in the Twitterstorm on 13 July using the hashtag #TimeFor8.


  • Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group (tbc)
  • Guy Ryder, Director-General, International Labour Organization
  • Mario Cimoli, Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Ayuba Wabba, National President of the Nigeria Labour Congress and President of the ITUC
  • Jacqueline Mugo, Secretary General of Business Africa
  • Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary (Moderator)

For more information: