Decent Work and Economic Growth
Unveiling Sustainable Development Goal 8
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development sets out to build a world that is inclusive, sustainable, and leaves no one behind. It provides a global roadmap for achieving prosperity, self-fulfillment, and balanced progress across economic, social, and environmental aspects. Within this agenda, Sustainable Development Goal 8 (SDG 8) stands as a crucial pillar, aiming to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, decent work opportunities, and social protection for all. SDG 8 plays a vital role in ensuring that everyone has equal opportunities and is not marginalised. This comprehensive article will explore the fundamental overview, significance, challenges, and path forward for SDG 8.
Sustainable Development Goal 8 targets multiple dimensions of sustainable economic growth, encompassing job creation, entrepreneurship, productivity, labour rights, and social protection. Its primary objective is to achieve full and productive employment, decent work for all, and eradicate poverty through sustainable economic growth.
Nevertheless, the journey towards attaining this global objective has encountered obstacles, and the majority of the set targets remain distant. Global circumstances, including past economic downturns and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, have exacerbated the plight of individuals, particularly those who belong to marginalized and vulnerable populations.
Why it Matters
The significance of ensuring decent work and economic growth cannot be overstated, especially when we consider the snapshots presented in the UN Sustainable Development Goals Report for 2022. These snapshots shed light on the economic challenges and inequalities that persist worldwide, underscoring the urgent need for collective action to tackle these issues and strive toward sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
Global real GDP per capita was projected to increase by 3 percent in 2022.
However, the Ukraine crisis is expected to impact growth, resulting in a growth rate of 2.1 percent instead.
The real GDP for least developed countries is projected to rise by 4.0 percent in 2022.
In 2023, it is expected to increase further by 5.7 percent.
Despite these positive projections, the growth rates are still below the 7 percent target set under the 2030 Agenda.
In 2021, global output per worker experienced a significant rebound, rising by 3.2 percent.
However, least developed countries witnessed a decline in productivity, with a decrease of 1.6 percent.
In 2021, the average worker in a high-income country produced 13.6 times more output than the average worker in a low-income country.
The global unemployment rate is projected to remain above its 2019 level of 5.4 percent until at least 2023.
In 2021, unemployment declined slightly to 6.2 percent.
In 2021, 4.3 percent of global working hours were lost compared to the fourth quarter of 2019, reflecting the impact of the pandemic on employment.
At the beginning of 2020 approximately 160 million children were engaged in child labor worldwide
At the beginning of 2020, approximately 160 million children were engaged in child labor worldwide.
Out of this total, 63 million were girls, and 97 million were boys.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation, and it is estimated that 9 million additional children are at risk of being pushed into child labor by the end of 2022.
Rising poverty driven by the pandemic is a key factor contributing to this increased risk.
Attaining Sustained and inclusive economic growth can drive progress in:
Job Creation and Decent Work: SDG 8 acknowledges the importance of creating quality employment opportunities that provide fair wages, social protection, and safe working conditions. By fostering decent work, societies can enhance economic productivity, reduce inequalities, and improve overall well-being.
Economic Growth and Innovation: SDG 8 promotes sustainable economic growth by encouraging innovation, diversification, and entrepreneurship. By supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and fostering an enabling business environment, it drives innovation, productivity, and competitiveness.
Social Protection: SDG 8 emphasizes the need for social protection systems, including access to healthcare, education, and social security, to ensure that individuals and communities are resilient in the face of economic shocks and vulnerabilities.
However, achieving these global aspirations is hindered by challenges such as:
The prevalence of informal employment; where workers lack legal protections, social security, and fair wages continues to rise further featured to poor working conditions.
Eradicating Youth Unemployment remains a pressing issue worldwide.
Gender disparities persist in the labor market, with women facing barriers to equal opportunities and fair treatment.
Governments face obstacles when it comes to regulating and enhancing the supervision of child labor. Additionally, they encounter even greater challenges regarding migration, as they strive to prevent the proliferation of child labor.
The emergence of new technologies brings about the potential for heightened vulnerability in the labor market.
These challenges among others pose significant obstacles to the realization of SDG 8's objectives. Addressing them requires collective efforts from governments, businesses, and society as a whole.
The way forward would like to focus on
Promoting Sustainable Business Practices: Encouraging businesses to adopt sustainable practices, including responsible production and consumption patterns, can contribute to economic growth while minimizing negative environmental impacts.
Enhancing Skills Development: Investments in education and skills training programs are crucial to equip individuals with the skills needed for the job market. This includes both technical skills and soft skills, enabling them to adapt to changing labor market demands.
Strengthening Social Protection: Expanding social protection systems and ensuring universal access to healthcare, education, and social security will enhance resilience and reduce inequalities, fostering sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
Advancing Fair Trade and Responsible Supply Chains: Promoting fair trade practices and responsible supply chains can improve working conditions, protect workers' rights, and promote sustainable economic development, especially in developing countries.
In summary, SDG 8 serves as a guiding light in our pursuit of a world where individuals have access to decent work and can reap the benefits of sustainable economic growth. To achieve this, several recommendations can be considered. Firstly, it is crucial to strengthen labor rights and address future challenges such as migration, technological advancements, and changes in work. Additionally, acknowledging and measuring child labour essential in combating its prevalence.
Furthermore, the provision of social protection should not be solely tied to formal employment, and alternative funding mechanisms need to be explored. Implementing redistributive policies and establishing transformative schemes at work are also vital steps toward achieving gender equality.
By embracing the principles of SDG 8 and working together, we can build a future that is both prosperous and equitable. It is imperative to prioritise the creation of decent work opportunities, foster sustainable economic growth, and ensure social protection for all individuals. By addressing the challenges outlined above and taking collective action, we can pave the way for a sustainable and inclusive world where everyone can thrive. Let us join hands and commit ourselves to the vision of SDG 8, shaping a future that upholds the principles of decent work, economic prosperity, and social well-being.