The UN’s 2030 Agenda relies on achieving decent work for all and creating employment through sustainable economic growth. Increasing employment opportunities and income helps to eradicate poverty and raise living standards. Inclusive economic growth creates a larger workforce, thus accelerating economic development. The targets of the UN to reach this goal include:
- Achieving full and decent employment for all people, including women, youth and persons with disabilities.
- Protecting labor rights and safe working conditions.
- Providing opportunities for youth employment, education and training.
- Eradicating forced labor, human trafficking, child labor, and the recruitment of child soldiers.
- Separating economic growth from environmental degradation.
- Promoting growth and job opportunities in the entrepreneurship and sustainable tourism sectors.
Labor productivity, global GDP, and access to finance are all growing, but the progress is uneven. Furthermore, the global economy continues to face enduring issues in gender disparity—only 48 percent of women participate in the labor force, compared to 75 percent of men. According to UNwomen.org, at the current rate, "the gender gap, which stands at 23 per cent globally, will not close until 2086—or possibly beyond." In this collection, we learn about efforts to eliminate barriers for female entrepreneurs. In Chile, the government is working to decrease a glaring gender disparity in its startup accelerator program, Start-Up Chile (SUP), by offering training and equity-free funding to female-founded startups.
The stories below also illustrate how communities are embracing new opportunities. Kirk Siegler writes about a Colorado county looking toward the tech sector after the collapse of its coal economy. On the other side of the globe, coastal communities in India grappling with soil salinity are farming seaweed to adapt and provide an income boost. In the Philippines, communities are shifting from farming clams to preserving them—and cashing in on ecotourism.
Read on to learn about how efforts by labor groups and the Philadelphia city council succeeded in passing legislation to bring crucial labor rights to domestic workers.
Click here for more stories in the Solutions Story Tracker on decent work and economic growth.
- Choose another one of the SDGs and examine its targets alongside those of Goal 8. Explain how the success of the goal you chose relates to the success of Goal 8. Consider, in particular, goals 2 (Zero Hunger), 9 (Innovation, Industry, and Infrastructure), 12 (Responsible production and consumption), and 13 (Climate Action)?
- Enumerate the various strategies being deployed by the import replacement movement. Then describe the “multiplier” or ripple effects, of those strategies.
- Compare and contrast the roles of policymakers and the private sector in reaching the targets for Goal 8. Which targets do governments and the international community need to focus on and which can be led by private sector investment? Consider also the role that social justice movements or public-private partnerships can play in achieving actions from these sectors.
- What challenges do declining birth rates and increasing longevity pose to achieving sustained economic growth? Research these two trends and explain how they interact in economic terms. You may also wish to analyze this trend by country or region.
- Explain the role of the renewable energy sector in achieving Goal 8. What can the renewable energy industry do to help countries transition into a low-carbon economy?
- Choose an Issue Area or a Success Factor related to Goal 8. Then, create a collection and select at least 4 (or more) stories from the Solution’s Story Tracker that relate to your topic. If working with groups, each group can present on the issues and solutions they found most compelling.
- Economic growth relates to the effort to raise wages and decrease poverty, which in turn affects the poverty cycle. Attaining sustainable economic growth will require investment in new technologies, encouraging circular economies, and promoting green energy. Achieving Goal 8 using sustainable methods is also central to action in response to climate change. Answers will vary by student.
- Localities are employing several different strategies. They are incorporating employee-owned cooperatives, often in conjunction with “anchor institutions” that provide reliable local markets. They are using data-driven analysis to determine where the local needs are and what local money is leaving the community by purchasing elsewhere. They have established employee home-buying programs to provide affordable employee housing and stabilize the community. And, in the case of Albuquerque, they have provided political will to enforce procurement policies that emphasize local purchasing, as well as providing a “dashboard” for local businesses that want to pursue contracts with the city. The effects of these efforts are typically synergistic and positive. The import replacement idea builds local wealth by keeping consumer dollars in the community and raising employment rates. Because fewer goods are being imported from across the country and world, the carbon footprint of a town or city is dramatically reduced. Producing goods locally builds resilience and adaptability in a community; see the example of Albuquerque not running out of toilet paper because it has a local, family-owned paper factory. Place-based strategies revitalize communities; as employment goes up and businesses thrive, the tax base and property values increase, enhancing the overall wealth of the community. There are other “wraparound” effects, such as the home-buying program in Massachusetts, enhanced hiring of minorities and underrepresented groups, and the sustainability of local economies.
- Governments need to play a leading role in establishing a plan for achieving Goal 8, including regulating labor markets, providing protections to workers, and developing mechanisms for long-term sustainable growth. This should include consultations and collaborations with the private sectors in developing new technology, industries, and mechanisms that can unlock the potential of every society. For more on the roles of governments and the private sector, peruse the UN report found here.
- The global population is getting older and growing more slowly. The population of the world grew at a rate of 1.14% in 2014 and by 2018 had slowed to 1.10%. As this trend continues, one of the most significant impacts is that a smaller labor pool will not be able to sufficiently support an aging global population. In many developed countries, the idea of social security relies on the assumption that population growth, when illustrated graphically by age and sex, forms a pyramid-shape. However, today many countries are facing the challenges of a “stovepipe” shape, or even an inverted pyramid, where new entries into the workforce would not be sufficient to cover the needs of an aging population. The issue becomes more pronounced with parallel trends of increasing longevity.
- According to this report by the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, “renewable companies stand to contribute most directly to SDG 8 through their core business practices. That includes adopting strong and fair labor policies and practices, making tax payments to governments and rental or other payments to communities or households, and driving economic growth through electrification, local procurement, and other indirect economic activity.” Learn more here.
- Answers will vary by student—though important topics to consider include modern slavery, human trafficking, child soldiers, and child exploitation. You may wish to have students consider factors as they relate to the poverty cycle, and how this relates to social unrest. For more on creating collections, click here. For more on Success Factors, click here.