Trade Union-DAC Forum 2019 deals with Private Sector Finance, Climate Change, Transitioning beyond ODA

On 9 April, the 5th Trade Union–Development Assistance Committee (DAC) Forum was held under the overarching themes of the role of private finance and social dialogue in achieving the SDGs. The Trade Union–DAC Forum meets annually at the OECD and is co-organised by the TUAC and the ITUC Trade Union Development Cooperation Network (TUDCN).

Source: Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) to the OECD

The forum opened with a session on the private sector contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the OECD’s call for “impact imperative” in financing sustainable development. While a significant scale-up of investments is required to achieve the SDGs, trade unions argued that “mobilising” finance comes with conditions. Such as, labour rights and accountability, protecting public services and ensuring that the private sector effectively incorporate the SDGs in their investment and business strategy. During the session, a number of policy issues and hard choices were addressed, including:

  • The opportunities of mobilising pension fund investment (through effective responsible investment) but also the limits and risks (pension schemes under pressure for demographic change combining with prolonged low interest rate environment);
  • The risk for recipient governments losing autonomy in investment schemes involving private sector and for risk-sharing arrangements privatising the gains, socialising the losses;
  • Ensuring public access to data, standardising data transparency when business confidentiality requirements becomes a barrier or a hinder;
  • The lack of consideration for labour standards and social dialogue principles in investment schemes that claim to have a “social impact”;
  • The extent to which development effectiveness and transparency principles are shared by non-DAC parties, and by the Chinese investment programme in particular.



The role of social dialogue

Discussions continued in the second session, focussing on the role of social dialogue in achieving the SDGs and Just Transition. With the Paris Agreement as backdrop, participants discussed “the imperatives of a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs in accordance with nationally defined development priorities” as highlighted in the Paris Agreement itself. Just Transition is premised on an inclusive approach that brings together workers, communities, employers and governments in social dialogue to drive the concrete plans, policies and investments needed for a fast and fair transformation towards a low carbon economy. An objective that is also reflected in the SDGs. At the meeting, trade unions used practical experiences to encourage the DAC to further promote coherence between the Paris agreement – and the Just Transition Principles – and development co-operation.



What is there after ODA?

Finally, in the third and final session the OECD secretariat presented their ongoing work on studying the behaviour of external finance as countries transition across the development continuum (for example from lower middle-income country to upper middle-income country), including the eventual graduation from eligibility for official development assistance. OECD presentations highlighted several country-specific and sector-specific cases where the loss of ODA eligibility was not compensated by comparable uptake in public and or private investment flows. Here, trade unions once again highlighted the importance of social dialogue and technical cooperation as key elements when drawing sustainable policy guidelines.



For more information please see:
Trade Union Priorities for the OECD Development Assistance Committee.