HLPF 2021: A New Social Contract with SDG8 at its core is fundamental to a just recovery

The Irish Coalition 2030 organised a virtual conference about the role of the SDGs to guide a just recovery from Covid-19. The event was held on 14 July and included the participation of Paola Simonetti, ITUC deputy director for economic and social policies, who provided a global perspective of how trade unions are contributing to shaping a just recovery.

Setting the global frame, Simonetti presented some key facts and figures on the “extraordinary wave of destruction” that the pandemic has triggered across the world of labour in terms of job losses and deepening of inequalities and poverty among workers worldwide.

She explained that the world was already holding a “sustainability debt” when it entered the crisis, and that this situation made it possible for Covid-19 to exacerbate the pre-existing deficiencies from which workers are suffering worldwide, even in developed economies, such as inadequate wages, not inclusive labour markets, and weak occupational health and safety at work.

Thereafter, Paola Simonetti cast a light about women as they stand out for being disproportionally impacted. More women have lost their jobs and livelihoods than men. And a vast majority of these women have been obliged to exit the work force. “This means that it will be extraordinarily difficult for them to come back into the labour market, so they really face long-lasting exclusion,” explained Simonetti.

Regarding the means at hands to address the crisis, Paola Simonetti stressed that the SDGs are providing the blue-print to achieve a human-centered recovery, and that SDG 8, through its targets on decent work, social protection and sustainable growth, plays a particularly important role in providing adequate policy responses and address the two major challenges to recovery: divergent recovery – countries recovering at different pace as wealthy countries are investing heavily in their own recovery while poor countries are left out – and weakened employment landscape – unemployment is foreseen to remain high in 2021, 2022 as job creation will fall short to pre-pandemic levels.

On these challenges, Paola Simonetti raised a strong warning against those governments who are planning to go back to austerity as “we know that it will be devastating”. In face of this risk, unions propose to governments to implement five key measures in line with SDG 8 and that are at the heart of their demand for a New Social Contract for a successful sustainable recovery:

  1. Step up investments in decent and climate-friendly jobs with Just Transition measures.
  2. Scale up universal social protection and support a Global Fund for Social Protection for the least developed countries.
  3. Uphold equality and fight vulnerability.
  4. Finance recovery and resilience.
  5. Support inclusive governance and social dialogue.

 Watch Paola Simonetti’s intervention
 Watch Irish unions’ call for a New Social Contract for a just recovery
 Download trade unions’ publication SDG 8 as a New Social Contract for a job-rich recovery and resilience