Speakers Call for Bolstered International, Regional Support to Address Existing Inequalities between Nations, as Social Development Commission Session Continues
As the Commission for Social Development continued its general discussion today, delegates explored ways to overcome multiple crises — including the COVID-19 pandemic, rising conflicts and climate change — that have exacerbated existing inequalities between and within nations.
During the half-day discussion, speakers outlined strategies to recover their economics to pre-pandemic levels, citing full employment and decent working conditions for all as a way to get back on track to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. To this end, they highlighted the need to eradicate the digital divide, strengthen education and health systems and bolster North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation. Many also expressed condolences and solidarity with Türkiye and Syria after the devastating earthquake that hit parts of the two countries.
The representative of Syria, in a pre-recorded message, appealed to the international community to extend assistance. He also stressed that the illegal economic measures imposed on Syrians have exacerbated the effects of the pandemic and undermined social protection services. Spotlighting his Government’s efforts to address that, he drew attention to a cash aid programme supporting families dealing with cases of brain paralysis cases, with more than 28,000 families benefiting annually. He also pointed to a cash aid programme for children with multiple disabilities — financed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) — which is supporting more than 30,000 families.
Pakistan’s delegate, warning against the growing gap between rich and poor, pointed out that just 26 people own a full half of the world’s wealth. The polycrises triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, rising geopolitical tensions and climate change have only exacerbated existing inequalities. While richer nations have injected $17 trillion to stimulate their economies, developing countries are struggling to find even a fraction of the $4.1 trillion they are estimated to require to recover. Pakistan is reeling from unprecedented flooding — the worst natural disaster in its history, he recalled, urging developed countries to fulfil their ODA commitments.
The representative of Germany, stressing the need to ensure meaningful participation of young people, reported that his Government launched a €2 billion action programme in 2021, to help children catch up with schooling lost in the pandemic. Also addressing the Commission, a youth delegate from Germany emphasized that quality education should be significantly strengthened and called for a ban on unpaid internships. Doing such unpaid work in Europe costs an average of over €1,000 per month, money that most young people simply do not have at that stage in life. Thus, it perpetuate existing economic inequality by only being accessible to those who can afford to take unpaid positions.
The representative of Burkina Faso described the dire situation in his country, with recurrent terrorist attacks and massive displacement. While many health-care centres in Burkina Faso remain closed — leaving big parts of the population without access to health care — the country is struggling with worsening unemployment, movement restrictions and economic challenges. Despite reforms aimed at modernizing the country, limited resources and access to credit — along with climate risks — are limiting its achievement of some of the 2030 Agenda’s key targets.
Cuba’s delegate voiced concern over an unjust international order, commercialization of human life and economic fallout caused by the global community’s inability to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. While the pandemic has become a thing of the past in many developed countries, its impacts continue to be felt in all areas of social development in the Global South. Social development and poverty eradication can only be achieved by strengthening North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation, ensuring universal access to education and health care, as well as technology and resource transfer, he asserted.
In a similar vein, the representative of Sri Lanka underscored that reform of the international financial architecture must be a global imperative. He urged multilateral institutions to provide assistance when “the patient is still alive” and not “after the patient has died”. He also called for a concerted, holistic policy approach with near to long-term strategies to effectively resuscitate the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. “Only then can we talk of creating full and productive employment and decent work,” he added.
Also speaking were ministers, representatives and youth delegates of Guinea, Sudan, Botswana, Slovenia, Paraguay, Senegal, Maldives, Iraq, China, Luxembourg, Greece, Bulgaria, Lebanon, Japan, Brazil, Austria, Italy, Serbia, Djibouti, and Mongolia.
The Commission will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 13 February, to continue its general debate.
AICHA NANETTE CONTE, Minister for Women Empowerment, Children and Vulnerable Persons of Guinea, aligning herself with the African Group and the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that COVID-19 has aggravated social inequality and poverty though loss of jobs and weakening of health and education system. Her Government has established a national committee on development and started a decisive phase in its social development, focusing on priority areas such as social action, employment and employability. Fighting against unemployment, corruption and social inequality, Guinea has taken tangible measures, creating the Court of Repression of Economic and Financial Offences, institutionalizing gender services and establishing a service for dealing with the presidential programme. Moreover, it has launched projects to boost the employability of the youth. Stressing the need to eradicate the digital divide, strengthen education and health systems, and achieve well-being of vulnerable persons, she said that Guinea is seeking to increase the qualification of teachers and medical professionals, as well as boost women’s and youth’s entrepreneurship. Her Government also strives to improve the living conditions of vulnerable groups, including women and older persons, she said, calling on States to demonstrate political will and international solidarity.
JAMAL MANSOUR, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Social Development of Sudan, said his country is continuing its efforts to achieve social justice, reduce unemployment rates and create decent job opportunities for both young men and women. Sudan has developed plans, programmes and projects at both the federal and state levels. In addition, volunteer and civil society organizations have also taken action to protect the workforce in the public, private and informal sectors, by providing social security. This year, the Government has focused on the informal sector through direct cash transfers, microfinancing programmes and income-generating projects. The Government has also introduced employment legislation to regulate the situation of workers in Sudan and abroad, including non-Sudanese and refugees. As well, it has adopted a comprehensive and equitable and equitable social protection strategy benefitting destitute communities and vulnerable groups, including the elderly, persons with disabilities, displaced persons and women and children especially in conflict zones. Detailing other initiatives, he called on the international community to provide technical and programmatic support, build capacity and improve the infrastructure of national institutions, and support civil society organizations.
ONALENNA SECHELE (Botswana) said her country is committed to the principle of full and productive employment and decent work for all. It has adopted and successfully implemented several policies to this end, such as the 2021 National Employment Policy which aims to promote gainful and decent employment. In 2020, Botswana enacted an Economic Inclusion Act which provides for the implementation of existing economic empowerment laws and initiatives, and most importantly, the effective participation of “targeted citizens” in the economic growth and development of the economy. Citing a 2021 study that puts the rate of unemployment amongst its youth at 34.4 per cent, she highlighted the Youth Development Fund as a special vehicle for ensuring youth entrepreneurial development. Further, the potential of the agriculture and food production sector to create jobs is being harnessed with substantial investment in the sector, she said.
Mr. DOLINAR (Slovenia) associating himself with the European Union, said his country adjusted labour market programmes during the pandemic and introduced various income support measures for vulnerable groups, such as the self-employed, older persons, recipients of financial social assistance, families with children and persons with disabilities. However, structural challenges remain, and certain groups still face the risk of poverty — such as in-work poverty, long-term unemployed, people living in households without working members with dependent children and retired or self-employed women. His Government has already made reforms to address the impact of pandemic crisis. “However, we cannot let this crisis define us or our future,” he stressed. It is therefore key to create decent work for all in a full and productive employment — also essential for full implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Goal 8. He called for bold and decisive action, including: investing in infrastructure, education and training, and adjusting labour laws and policies to ensure that they are fair and adequately protect the rights of all who work.
Ms. MORENO (Paraguay), aligning herself with the Group of 77 and China and the Group of Friends of Older Persons, reported that her country has announced its national plan for employment for 2022-2026. This plan aims to promote decent employment by encouraging policies that contribute to economic growth, stimulating demand, retraining workers and strengthening institutions in an inclusive, sustainable manner. Noting its progress so far, she said that actions across 300 companies have promoted new jobs and improved productivity among workers. Another Government initiative has constructed 3,000 homes across Paraguay, 700 of which were for indigenous communities. This initiative has benefitted over 12,000 individuals and generated employment for more than 22,500. Meanwhile, in the rural sector, over 43,000 individuals have benefitted from a skills programme for rural producers, designed to ensure sustainable production and improve living conditions for smallholders and their families. She went on to note that the Government seeks to include underprivileged groups in the labour market, setting up a capacity-building programme for over 11,500 vulnerable people, including indigenous people, those with disabilities and the prison population.
BOKOUM MAHAMADOU (Burkina Faso), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, outlined recent progress made in his country on social development, as well as challenges that remain. Citing Burkina Faso’s Economic and Social Development Plan (2021-2025) — which aims to reduce poverty and inequality and satisfy fundamental human needs in an equitable manner — he nevertheless said that all those activities are continuing against the backdrop of recurrent terrorist attacks and resulting massive displacement, the climate crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic and the global impacts of the war in Ukraine. Many health-care centres in Burkina Faso remain closed, leaving big parts of the population without access to health care. Meanwhile, the country is struggling with worsening unemployment, a drop in public resources, movement restrictions and economic challenges. While Burkina Faso is accelerating reforms aimed at modernizing the country and increasing the efficiency of national resources, he said limited resources and access to credit — along with climate risks and other factors — are regrettably limiting Burkina Faso’s achievement of some of the 2030 Agenda’s key targets.
Mr. DIOUF (Senegal), aligning himself with the African Group and the Group of 77 and China, stressed that interlocking crises — health, security, food, climate and economy — are a threat to international peace and a hindrance to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. In relation to COVID-19, Senegal has set up a social and economic resilience programme to support the most vulnerable. Moreover, the Government has reinforced 1,000 economic units in the informal sector and has protected progress made promoting decent work. Despite the war in Ukraine and the resulting recession in the global economy, Senegal’s economy continues to be resilient with growth at 6.5 per cent in 2022. Further, in 2022, Senegal adopted the Integrated National Strategy for the Formalization of the Informal Economy to strengthen resilience and independence of young people and women. The Government has also increased subsidies for the cost of fuel and has aided vulnerable families. It is high time that the international community shows its solidarity, he asserted, calling for fairer and more equitable distribution of resources to promote decent work of young people and women. The additional financing needed for Africa is $250 billion by 2025, he said.
ABDUL AHMAD (Syria), in a pre-recorded message, spotlighted the recent earthquake in his country and appealed to the international community to extend assistance. Its Constitution provides the legal framework for governing social protection, he said, adding that COVID-19 has significantly slowed down the Syrian economy and eliminated numerous work opportunities. Moreover, the illegal economic measures imposed on Syrians has exacerbated the effects of the pandemic and has undermined social protection services for the more disadvantaged sectors. Nonetheless, his Government continues its efforts to develop and expand social security programmes in line with its various strategies to support the elderly, youth, women and children, as well as victims of recruitment and child labour.
He went on to say that, in collaboration with the civil and private sectors, his Government has sought to expand social safety nets. In that regard, a cash aid programme supports families who are dealing with cases of brain paralysis cases, with more than 28,000 families are benefiting annually. Meanwhile, a cash aid programme for children with multiple disabilities, which is financed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and being implemented with the civil sector, is supporting more than 30,000 families. He reiterated his appeal for assistance in light of the various challenges facing his country.
MARK KAMPERHOFF (Germany), stressing the importance of international solidarity, said that young people are vital actors for peace, social justice and social development. “We need to move beyond tokenism and ensure their meaningful participation,” he added, noting that his Government launched a €2 billion action programme in 2021, to help children catch up with schooling lost in the pandemic, to step up early childhood education and to foster extracurricular activities. Expressing support for the work of the Standing Working Group on Ageing, he said intergenerational solidarity goes hand in hand with gender equality. Also emphasizing the importance of sufficient, decent and sustainable jobs, he noted that, with 9 out of 10 jobs created by the private sector, cooperating with that sector is crucial for employment creation. However, growth is not a means to an end, he said, underscoring the importance of growth designed to serve people, promote development and reduce poverty. Many products and raw materials that make life in Europe more comfortable are produced or mined under unacceptable environmental and working conditions, he pointed out, highlighting the recently passed German law, Corporate Due Diligence in Supply Chains.
Ms. LICHTSCHLAG, youth delegate of Germany, then addressed the Commission, making two recommendations. Noting the disruption that the pandemic brought upon the formal education of millions of children and young people all over the world, she said quality education should be significantly strengthened. At the same time, non‑formal education should be valued for its important role in shaping well‑rounded humans and citizens. Her second recommendation related to unpaid internships. According to a study conducted by the European Youth Forum, doing an unpaid internship in Europe costs an average of over €1,000 per month, money that most young people simply do not have at that stage in life. Therefore, they perpetuate existing economic inequality by only being accessible to those who can afford them, she said, calling for a ban on unpaid internships.
AISHATH MOHAMED DIDI, Minister for Gender, Family and Social Services of Maldives, reported that her country’s economy is expected to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels in 2023. Business stimulus packages were provided; special facilities for freelance workers were created; and moratorium on loan payments was extended during the pandemic. Moreover, the Government provided free vaccination and health care, including for migrants, regardless of their legal status. Recognizing the importance of inclusivity in economic and infrastructure development, the Employment Act 2008 was amended to set a minimum wage and provide paid annual leave, sick leave, maternity, paternity and family leave for all employees.
Additionally, the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Finance Corporation was established to provide ancillary services to entrepreneurial start-ups, she continued. To ensure gender inclusivity in all areas of work, the Government developed the National Gender Equality Action Plan 2022-2026 by increasing women’s participation in all State and national-level engagements, while ensuring gender equality in leadership roles and economic activities. Addressing her country’s youth, she outlined the development of the Youth Bill to promote and protect young people’s employment opportunities, adding that under the National Social Health Insurance Scheme free medical assistance is provided to all citizens.
Mr. HIJAB YASEEN (Iraq), noting that his Government has taken efforts to combat the scourge of poverty caused by the pandemic, highlighted its national strategy for combating poverty for the period 2023-2027. The financial policy that the country is putting in place currently aims to use the crisis to drive governmental reforms, he said, stressing the importance of long-term solutions and reforms that generate employment, in particular, in the private sector. Generating economic growth is a sine qua non condition for improving the life of the people in Iraq, he said, also highlighting a food security law. Further, the country is taking political and legal approaches to problems stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, including unemployment, he said, noting that these challenges have been exacerbated by terrorism and the displacement of the population.
DAI BING (China), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that the lingering impacts of COVID-19, the global economic downturn, rising geopolitical tensions and interlocking food, energy and debt crises widened the North-South gap in terms of post-pandemic recovery, development and the technological divide. Against that backdrop, he stressed the need to place employment at the forefront of macroeconomic policy and to support micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises. Also underlining the importance of upholding a people-centric development philosophy, he called for accommodating the needs of vulnerable groups with targeted policies and assistance. Further, when delivering social and public services, priority should be given to rural and poverty-stricken areas. He went on to say that international cooperation must continue to prioritize development and respond to the concerns of developing countries, and that developed countries should take tangible actions to fulfil their ODA commitments. Urging those present to practise true multilateralism, he called for building an open global economy, developing stable supply chains and rejecting any exclusive cliques that fracture international development cooperation.
OLIVIER MAES (Luxembourg), associating himself with the European Union and the LGBTI Core Group, said the COVID-19 pandemic has had a considerable impact on global economies and on the world of work. That situation has been further exacerbated by the Russian Federation’s war of aggression against Ukraine. All of that has contributed to difficult employment situations around the world, he said, declaring: “We must invest in our citizens” through education, access to health care, clean energy, safe water and other basic rights. In Luxembourg, all decisions relating to the employment sector are taken in conjunction with unions, employers and the Government, he said, describing the model as one of “social solidarity”. Luxembourg also contributes 1 per cent of its gross national income to official development assistance (ODA), and its international cooperation and development policy prioritizes training as well as a focus on women and girls. Providing some examples of projects undertaken with partner countries, he said the country also works closely with ILO and supports is efforts to put equality and social justice at the heart of all of its work.
Ms. OPPERMANN, youth delegate of Luxembourg, cited several emerging challenges affecting young people around the globe, including a mental health crisis, and lack of sufficient access to training and employment. “Access to internships should not be a privilege,” she stressed, noting that such training is often needed to acquire experience and ultimately gain employment.
Ms. BEYENBURG, also a youth delegate of Luxembourg, echoed that, saying that unpaid internships are too often the norm — including within the United Nations system. Also spotlighting the prevalence of short-term employment and insufficient salaries, she called for the implementation of a minimum base salary for young workers and more regulation of internship conditions, warning that poor conditions may amount to age-based discrimination.
EVANGELOS SEKERIS (Greece), aligning himself with the European Union, said that, apart from generating the resources needed for decent living standards, work provides opportunities for meaningful engagement in society and promotes a social inclusion. Higher employment rates are a key condition for making societies more inclusive, by reducing poverty and inequality between regions and social groups. On its path to economic recovery, the international community must prioritize the protection of the right to work. Moreover, it is vital to facilitate women’s equal participation in the labour market and ensure the equal access of women to decent work and quality jobs. This requires policies based on social dialogue, aimed at eliminating discriminatory social norms and gender stereotypes, ensuring equal pay for work of equal value, eliminating discrimination and violence and ensuring the safety of women in work. He stressed the importance of quality job creation, especially in green sectors. “The global recovery must be sustainable, green, digital, circular, inclusive and just,” he said, noting that tackling global poverty, climate change and bridging the digital divide are an integral part of recovery.
Ms. SAVOVA, youth delegate of Bulgaria, said young people had already been experiencing tough labour-market conditions, but the issues of unemployment, underemployment and poor-quality jobs have only worsened during the pandemic. As youth delegates, they conducted a national survey and collected the opinions of more than 1,200 young Bulgarians, who highlighted access to inclusive and equitable quality education and employment as the two main challenges they face. These issues affect young people worldwide and are a serious impediment to their right to an adequate standard of living, she added.
Ms. GARELOVA, also a youth delegate of Bulgaria, said the educational system is overloaded with a theoretical approach and does not sufficiently prepare youth for a demanding and fast-changing world of work. In addition, while there are lots of opportunities in large cities, programmes and initiatives continue to be rare and are far less numerous in small towns and cities. The strong concentration of human capital in a single place generates greater inequalities and creates a vicious cycle of abandonment of local areas. She encouraged cooperation between Government and economic actors and young people, stressing that a more productive dialogue between public institutions, private organizations and educational systems are urgently needed. If young people are given equal opportunities, then Member States can enable the training of the future generation of leaders and agents of change, she said.
JEANNE MRAD (Lebanon) said the current session comes at a timely moment, ahead of the Economic and Social Council’s high-level political forum and the Sustainable Development Goal Summit planned for later in 2023. As the world continues to experience overlapping crises, inequalities between and within countries are deepening and the global unemployment rate is expected to rise in 2023 to 208 million people. In Lebanon, due to multiple crises that have been prevalent since 2019, unemployment has nearly tripled in fewer than three years, reaching over 29 per cent in 2022. Women and youth have been particularly affected, with the unemployment rate of women at 32 per cent and the youth rate at over 47 per cent. As of today, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 “seems out of reach”, she stressed, underlining the need to focus on bridging the inequality gap, as well as tackling poverty, exclusion, depravation and unemployment. Particular attention should be paid to women, young people and older persons, she added.
MOHAMMAD AAMIR KHAN (Pakistan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said one particular Sustainable Development Goal — reduced inequalities — has not only lacked progress, but has, in fact, experienced a regression in recent years. The gap between rich and poor, both between and within nations, is growing, despite unprecedented global gains. Emphasizing that just 26 people own a full half of the world’s wealth, he said the polycrises triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, rising geopolitical tensions and climate change have only exacerbated those existing inequalities and vulnerabilities. “It is today the pandemic of inequalities that are playing havoc with people’s lives,” he stressed. While richer nations have injected around $17 trillion to stimulate their economies, developing countries are struggling to find even a fraction of the $4.1 trillion they are estimated to require to recover and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Calling for more international solidarity, he outlined Pakistan’s own employment statistics, noting that the Government is working to improve job opportunities for youth by boosting the private sector, creating a robust environment of entrepreneurship, improving exports and improving the access to Internet services. The country is also still reeling from the worst natural disaster in its history, namely unprecedented flooding, he added, calling upon developed countries to fulfil their ODA commitments without delay.
YAMANAKA OSAMU (Japan) said his Government’s “New Form of Capitalism” aims to grow the economy and transform social challenges into an engine for growth. Under this initiative, a wide range of programmes have been implemented to tackle challenges such as gender inequality and social isolation or loneliness. His country is also making efforts to raise salaries and advance workstyle reform on the national level, and to promote decent work at the international level. His Government provides support to other countries through the Japan International Cooperation Agency, as well as through voluntary contributions to ILO projects for emergency employment during the time of COVID-19 and natural disasters. Since the launch of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights in October 2020, his Government has encouraged businesses to ensure respect for human rights. In 2022, it formulated the Guidelines on Respecting Human Rights in Responsible Supply Chains, which focuses on human rights due diligence. To promote responsible business conduct at the international level, his country, through a project with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), supports others in formulating their national action plans and by offering training on human rights due diligence.
LUÍS GUILHERME PARGA CINTRA (Brazil) said the devastation caused by the pandemic illustrated the need for an active Government role in generating jobs and ensuring health and safety in the workplace. In addition to efforts at the national level, it is essential that the international community address these challenges from “a comprehensive and pragmatic solidarity perspective”, he said. His country has implemented a robust set of public policies to fight poverty over the last two decades, including the social-assistance system, the single registry and cash transfer programmes such as the Bolsa Familia. It has also established programmes to support children, young people, women, persons of age, people with disabilities, LGBTQI people, migrants and indigenous peoples. Highlighting the importance of additional support for individuals who are in risky situations, such as victims of child labour and slavery, as well as the homeless, he said it is vital to integrate human rights into social protection. Drawing attention to the impact of the pandemic on women, especially due to lack of access to childcare facilities, he said that Brazil is also focusing on social protection for digital platform workers.
PEDRO LUIS PEDROSO CUESTA (Cuba) said that an unjust international order, commercialization of human life and impacts on the most-vulnerable demonstrated the global community’s inability to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and subsequent economic fallout. While the pandemic has become a thing of the past in many developed countries, its impacts continue to be felt in all areas of social development, particularly in the Global South. Further, attaining the Sustainable Development Goals is becoming increasingly out of reach, especially as priority is given to financing wars and weapons rather than investing in sustainable development. Against that backdrop, he stressed that social development and poverty eradication can only be achieved by ensuring universal access to education and health care; social inclusion; technology and resource transfer; and strengthened global recovery that includes North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation. Social development cannot occur for all so long as certain countries continue to impose unilateral coercive measures, he stressed, spotlighting the United States’ cruel and infamous economic and financial blockade on his country for 70 years. Highlighting Cuba’s domestic and international successes in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, he wondered how much more could have been achieved without the blockade.
ALEXANDER MARSCHIK (Austria) said that the Austrian labour market has recovered from the pandemic, with programmes such as the short-time working scheme and the Corona Job Initiative, which have helped to maintain jobs and training opportunities for young people. Moscow’s war of aggression against Ukraine has caused immense human suffering, as well as the energy crisis, soaring inflation and a food-security crisis. More than 88,500 war-displaced people from Ukraine have found safety in Austria and enjoyed the right of free access to the Austrian labour market and to the social security system. Citing structural changes of the work environment — including globalization, technological innovation, demographic change, the pandemic and climate change — he called for a targeted response and close cooperation with ILO. Voicing support for the development of the Organization’s Recommendation on Quality Apprenticeship, he said that Austria aims to get more people with disabilities into employment. Moreover, the Government has taken measures to make the labour market more attractive for foreign skilled workers.
Delivering a message on behalf of the Austrian youth delegates, he underlined the need to implement effective vocational education for young people. In this regard, Austria’s apprenticeship system could serve as a best practice example since it equips young people with the right combination of in-school education and on-site work experience to succeed on the labour market.
GIANLUCA GRECO (Italy), aligning himself with the European Union, highlighted the need to reduce inequalities and discrimination through policies focused on promoting prosperity, social protection and food security. At the same time, new challenges — such as climate change and digital transformation — require immediate response. Describing social, economic and intergenerational inclusion as key drivers of action, he pointed out that in Italy, life expectancy has reached the age of 83.4. Ageing of the population requires coordinated policies, including a more effective dialogue between the public and the private sector. To this end, the Government is launching new initiatives aimed at promoting a better governance of national policies based on the notion of active and healthy ageing with a life course approach, while improving the protection of older persons from all forms of violence and abuse. He drew particular attention to women and persons with disabilities. Moreover, he underscored the importance of intergenerational dialogue and exchange. Empowering young people and promoting their full and meaningful participation in society, through access to education, labour market, new employment opportunities and decision-making is crucial to unleash their potential as drivers for change, he noted.
GIULIA TARIELLO, youth delegate of Italy, in a pre-recorded message, said Italian youth delegates are collaborating with peers from other countries to organize a side event called “Youth for Youth”, aimed at ensuring quality education and gainful employment. Underscoring the need to facilitate youth access to work, she pointed out that many job postings require years of professional experience, making it difficult for recent graduates to apply. Moreover, acquiring professional skills and experience is difficult because not everyone can afford to apply for an unpaid internship that requires relocating to another country. Lack of access to inclusive and equitable quality education prevents young people from meeting the requirements of the labour market, she emphasized, calling for strengthened cooperation among the different regions.
GABRIELE COLELLA, youth delegate of Italy, in a pre-recorded message, said that the United Nations Youth Delegate Programme is a testament to the willpower of the youth who are determined to have a seat at the table where decisions impacting their future are taken. Moreover, it enables youth delegates from all over the world to meet, discuss and have an impact on policies that will affect them first-hand. It shows that building an atmosphere of cooperation is possible, just as much as it is needed, be it through joint side events or coordinated statements. “Let this be a reminder of our duty to make sure events such as those always lead the way for actual change,” he said.
TAMARA STOJKOVIĆ, youth delegate of Serbia, stated: “We are already behind schedule in implementing the 2030 Agenda, the future we planned does not resonate with the present we are living in.” She called for proactive investment in young people, as well as more efforts to listen to their needs and concerns. Youth work too often remains undervalued and underpaid, with limited recognition for their acquired skills and experiences. That contributes to a lack of investment in the development and training of young workers, which has detrimental effects on their professional growth and the workforce as a whole. Joining other speakers in rejecting the notion of unpaid internships — which are often only available to youth from privileged backgrounds, exacerbating inequality — she said every young person deserves the support and opportunities to realize their goals. Given today’s rapidly changing world and the international community’s inability to adapt, she nevertheless praised the adoption of the United Nations Youth Strategy, the establishment of the United Nations Youth Office and the development of a World Programme of Action for Youth. She also outlined national efforts under way in Serbia to better address the needs of young people.
YOUSSOUF ADEN MOUSSA (Djibouti), spotlighting the devastating impacts of the COVID‑19 pandemic, said his country has been hard hit by the reduction in revenues and the increase in food prices. Almost 70 per cent of households in his country that participated in the 2022 surveys conducted by the World Bank, as well as the Djiboutian Statistics Institute stated that they do not have sufficient resources to cover an extra month, he reported. Noting his Government’s efforts to extend services to asylum seekers and refugees, he said that, despite significant progress, there are challenges in education, health, social protection and employment. Pointing to the wide socioeconomic disparities, he said Djibouti is committed to inclusive economic growth. Further, the Government is also trying to increase the quality of its social services. However, the country’s unemployment rate of 47 per cent and a large part of the population is not skilled. He also drew attention to the pandemic’s impact on the informal sectors of the economy, underscoring that while this is a growing sector, it is essential to make this growth more sustainable and inclusive and ensure decent jobs.
ENKHBOLD VORSHILOV (Mongolia) sharing his Government’s experience in using social-protection systems to overcome inequalities, said that during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mongolia took an inclusive approach that helped open a window of opportunity to build a more inclusive, equitable and adaptable labour market. Among plans adopted were its “Vision 2050” development policy, a new law preventing and fighting the pandemic, reducing negative social and economic impacts and the New Revival Policy. A new law on exemption from fines and penalties for social insurance payer provides business entities support to help them maintaining their workplaces, and helps citizens avoid interruptions to their social insurance records. Meanwhile, long-term concessional loans with low interest rates have been provided to businesses, allowing them to maintain and, if possible, create new jobs. A new labour code also lays the legal groundwork for the expansion of the scope of labour relations, including part-time work, remote work, the elimination of forced labour and ensuring the right of employees to assemble. In addition, a draft social insurance package law aims to create a more inclusive, equitable and adaptable labour market, he said.
MOHAN PIERIS (Sri Lanka) said his country is a party to all the major ILO conventions and has given effect to them through its domestic legislation. However, as legislation alone is not the panacea, the public and private sectors must join hands to address loss of livelihoods resulting from the pandemic-induced economic downturn and from global insecurities that have resulted in unbearably high inflation, he added. Sri Lanka’s tourism industry, on which the country is dependent, was severely affected by the pandemic, but is now witnessing signs of a recovery. While certain sectors have adapted with innovative strategies, many sectors, especially the service industry, have been negatively affected. However, Sri Lanka has in recent times seen a record growth in tourist arrivals and in foreign employment. Underscoring reform of the international financial architecture as a global imperative, he said multilateral institutions must provide assistance when “the patient is still alive” and not “after the patient has died”. He called for a concerted, holistic policy approach with near to long-term strategies to effectively resuscitate the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. “Only then can we talk of creating full and productive employment and decent work,” he added.