Globally, annual economic growth declined from 3% in 2000 to 1.3% in 2014. Roughly half the world’s population still lives on the equivalent of about USD 2 a day and in too many places, having a job doesn’t guarantee the ability to escape from poverty. This slow and uneven progress requires us to rethink and retool our economic and social policies aimed at eradicating poverty. Global unemployment increased from 170 million in 2007 to nearly 202 million in 2012, of which about 75 million are young women and men. A continued lack of decent work opportunities, insufficient investments and under-consumption has led to an erosion of the basic social contract underlying democratic societies: that all must share in progress. The creation of quality jobs will remain a major challenge for almost all economies well beyond 2015. But inclusive growth must also be cognisant of the needs of the most vulnerable – children, youth, and women. In 2012, 85 million children world over were engaged in hazardous forms of work.
Why is this important?
While developing countries have grown at a rate faster than developed regions, sustained economic growth everywhere will be critical to fulfilling our international developmental targets over the next 15 years. Economic growth – making our world more prosperous – is inextricably linked to all our other priorities. Stronger economies will afford us more opportunities to build a more resilient and sustainable world. And economic growth must be inclusive: growth that does not improve the wellbeing of all sections of society, especially the most vulnerable, is unequal and unfair.
How can we address this?
‘No one left behind’ is at the core of the sustainable development agenda for 2030 and if economic growth is to build a fairer world, it must be inclusive. This is the idea behind Goal 8, which aims to sustain an economic growth rate of 7% for the least developed countries by 2030, and achieve full and productive employment for all men and women everywhere in the next 15 years. Nearly 2.2 billion people live below the USD 2 poverty line and that poverty eradication is only possible through stable and well-paid jobs. It is estimated that 470 million jobs will be needed globally for the new entrants to the labour market between 2016 and 2030.
India and Goal 8
While the global economy sluggishly recovers, according to the International Monetary Fund, India is experiencing strong growth and rising real incomes. The dividends of this growth will be sustained by its people. With over 360 million young people between 10 and 24, India has the largest youth population in the world. Harnessing this demographic dividend holds the key to building a prosperous and resilient future for the country. However, India’s gross enrolment ratio in higher education is only 23%, amongst the lowest in the world. India’s labour force is set to grow by more than eight million each year, and the country will need to generate 280 million jobs between now and 2050, a one-third increase above current levels. The government’s National Skill Development Mission and Deendayal Upadhyaya Antodaya Yojana, as well as the National Service Scheme and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme are some flagship programmes aimed at bringing decent work to all.
- Sustain per capita economic growth in accordance with national circumstances and, in particular, at least 7% gross domestic product growth per annum in the least developed countries.
- Achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labour-intensive sectors.
- Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services.
- Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production, with developed countries taking the lead.
- By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value.
- By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training.
- Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.
- Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment.
- By 2030, devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products.
- Strengthen the capacity of domestic financial institutions to encourage and expand access to banking, insurance and financial services for all.
- Increase aid for trade support for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, including through the Enhanced Integrated Framework for Trade-Related Technical Assistance to Least Developed Countries.
- By 2020, develop and operationalise a global strategy for youth employment and implement the Global Jobs Pact of the International Labour Organization.