Social dialogue: a participatory approach to achieving the sustainable development goals

SOLiD, a project by the EU and ITUC, fosters social dialogue and sustainable development in the Mediterranean. Phase one saw success in Tunisia, Morocco, and Jordan, leading to a charter. Phase two expanded to Algeria, Lebanon, and Palestine to influence national policies through dialogue and development.

By Khaled Ghris, HTUR Coordinator with the Arab Trade Union Confederation

The major political changes of 2011, primarily impacting the southern Mediterranean, underlined the limitations of the economic and social policies being pursued and highlighted the urgent need for institutional reform. It is against this background that the SOLiD pilot project “to promote social dialogue in the southern Mediterranean” was launched in three countries (Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan).

SOLiD (Southern Mediterranean Social Dialogue) is a project promoted by the EU and the ITUC. It is coordinated by a consortium of nine members: ATUC (Arab Trade Union Confederation), BusinessMed (Union of Mediterranean Business Confederations), ANND (Arab NGO Network for Development), ISCOS (Italian Union Institute for Cooperation and Development), Progetto SUD, AIP (Association of Portuguese Industries), SOLIDAR, CNT Belgium (National Labour Council) and CES Morocco (Economic and Social Council).

SOLiD has been a real success story, managing to create a shared vision among the social partners and civil society organisations in the southern Mediterranean region, centred on social dialogue and 12 sustainable development goals (SDGs).

The project has been developed in two stages. Phase one led to a charter for social dialogue and sustainable development drawn up by the social partners in Tunisia, Morocco and Jordan. Phase two was launched in 2021 and has extended the geographical scope of the programme to include Algeria, Lebanon and Palestine.

SOLiD I: sustainable development goals at the centre of social dialogue

During phase one of the project, more than 30 activities and 18 studies were conducted for the benefit of the social partners and civil society in Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan. These initiatives were enhanced by exchange visits to Germany and Belgium, culminating in the signing of a charter designed to promote social dialogue and sustainable development in the Mediterranean region.

Noureddine Tabboubi (UGTT Tunisia): “Given the economic and social changes affecting the Mediterranean region, experiences of this kind are extremely important and we must make the most of them. Social dialogue is now the only viable way of addressing sustainable development issues. We are particularly pleased that our participation in the SOLiD programme coincides with the creation of the National Council for Social Dialogue in Tunisia, an institution that aspires to become a key tool in addressing the challenges facing our country.”

Patrick Itschert: European Trade Union Confederation: "The ETUC has contributed to this ambitious and courageous project through the transfer of expertise. Social dialogue not only contributes to establishing social peace but also to economic and social stability, enabling the social partners to take on the role of legislator: many agreements have been turned into laws in Europe. We will support the SOLiD Charter so that our partners in the southern Mediterranean can achieve its objectives."
Shaher Saad (PGFTU Palestine): "SOLiD is happening at a propitious time for generating a collective response from the social partners and civil society on social dialogue and sustainable development. I am referring here to the need to respond to the grassroots demands that emerged during the protests in 2011. SOLiD offers an appropriate space for developing consensus-based collective approaches to the future of development in the Mediterranean region.”

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SOLiD II: geographical and sectoral expansion

Although delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, SOLiD II has expanded geographically to include the social partners in Algeria, Lebanon and Palestine, alongside professional associations and elected local authorities. The health crisis, on account of its economic and social impact, has prompted a review of the first version of the SOLiD Charter.

Coordinated by a consortium made up of the ITUC, ATUC, BusinessMed and ANND, this second phase of the SOLiD project has entered the final stage in the run-up to the launch of the SOLiD II Charter for social dialogue and sustainable development. The key aim is to adopt this charter as a work tool that will enable the social partners in the southern Mediterranean to influence national policies in the field of economic, social and environmental development.