UN Regional Fora on sustainable development: Trade unions bring solutions to address workers’ global challenges

Between February and April 2024, the UN organised regional fora on sustainable development. ITUC affiliates participated in each of these events, highlighting workers’ calls for a new social contract and the defence of democracy.

The regional fora contributed to advance regional positions from governments and civil society organisations concerning the state of progress towards achieving the objectives of the UN 2030 Agenda, particularly the five goals that are under revision in 2024: Goal 1 on zero poverty, Goal 2 on no hunger, Goal 13 on climate action, Goal 16 on peaceful and inclusive societies, and Goal 17 on partnerships to achieve the Goals.

Africa’s regional development forum was held by UNECA from 23 to 25 April 2024 in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Abeba. The trade union delegation participating in the forum included representatives of FESTU Somalia, UST Chad, South Africa’s COSATU, Namibia’s TUCNA, and ITUC Africa. Delegates emphasised the role of social dialogue in achieving effective just transition pathways, the urgency of establishing universal social protection schemes in line with ILO standards and regardless of one’s employment status, and the need to guarantee decent work and minimum wages across all sectors. Part of the language was reflected in the UN ECA final declaration.

Trade union representatives at the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (Bangkok, 20-23 February) came from GEFONT (Nepal), FFW (the Philippines), Eiler (The Philippines), and ITUC Asia-Pacific. Delegates emphasised workers’ key priorities, such as investing in climate-friendly jobs with living wages, updating education for sustainability, and ensuring labour rights in climate policies, among others. In addition, ITUC-Asia Pacific co-organised a side event on systemic barriers in multilateralism, and affiliates met key officials, including UN Undersecretary General Guy Ryder and ESCAP Executive Secretary Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana.

The ITUC delegation participating in the UNECE Regional Sustainable Development Forum (Brussels, 13-14 March) was composed of ITUC staff, along with representatives of CTU Armenia and TUC Georgia. Delegates’ contributions to social dialogue, decent work, universal social protection, and democracy, including the non-criminalisation of trade unions, were well reflected in the positions of the Civil Society Coordination Mechanism interacting with the Forum. On the contrary, despite their efforts, the delegation stressed that their contributions were not fully included in the summary report of the UNECE Forum.

The UN- Regional SDG Forum for Latin America and the Caribbean took place in Santiago de Chile on 15-18 April 2024. The trade union delegation was composed of representatives from CGT Argentina and Rerum Novarum Costa Rica. Delegates successfully ensured the inclusion of several workers’ demands in both the joint CSO declaration and the final declaration of the Forum, including important language on decent work, social protection, access to energy, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, gender equality, and democracy.

  • Read the article of CGT Argentina’s Marita González, who was a member of the delegation.