Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Nordic countries Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and my own country Sweden appreciate this opportunity to have a dialogue on how employment and decent work for all can contribute to poverty eradication.
The Nordic countries are deeply committed to contribute to poverty eradication and decent work for all – in our own countries and globally. We are also deeply committed to contribute to the post-2015 process.
The MDGs, based on the Declaration, were concretely formulated and limited in number. That made them a successful tool for awareness raising and cooperation. However, despite the success, extreme poverty, inequalities and other impediments for sustainable development still exist. In our endeavors to develop a new universal agenda for sustainable and inclusive development we must consider the lessons learned from the MDGs.
An important one clearly is that poverty eradication must be at the heart of a sustainable development agenda; and by focusing on inequalities and leaving no one behind, we have the possibility of achieving our goals.
A job and an income is the primary route out of poverty. In every society at all times there are, however, people who need social protection: children, persons with disabilities, elderly.
Job creation requires economic policies that are deliberately aimed at promoting employment intensive investments and employability of all women and men. The creation of decent jobs is a pressing global development priority, and should be at the heart of the new Development Goals for the post-2015 period.
Governments therefore have an important role in promoting employment and skills enhancing business environments. To ensure decent work, governments have a responsibility to promote occupational safety and health and to set minimum wages. It is also important to create a level playing field for all enterprises. This is indeed a challenge for every government to address.
Rule of law and democratic, effective and accountable government institutions are fundamental building blocks for a sustainable and inclusive economic development and for a predictable business environment.
A crucial constraint for the growth of private sector in many low income countries, and for trade, is access to a reliable electricity and transport infrastructure. Access to reliable electricity and improved transport infrastructure will facilitate economic integration and trade. This will create economic growth and create jobs.
Improved infrastructure, for example in rural areas, can also be a strong driver of inclusive growth and job creation for women and men living in poverty.
Infrastructure investments must however be accompanied with investments in social sectors and social protection. The productivity of the work force depends on the non-discriminatory access and quality of the education system, including technical and vocational training (TVET) and the primary health care system.
Cities will continue to be centers of employment and innovation. If urbanization is planned, governed and managed correctly it can be a strong force for sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
Gender equality and women’s economic empowerment is one area where progress is needed. The fact that women in some places are still denied the right to work and to own property, does not make any sense. Not least in terms of economic policy. No country can afford to deny women their rights to participate in economic life. Women’s economic empowerment may be the single most important contributing factor to the eradication of poverty. Neither will unpaid work – to the same extent as paid work – contribute to increased domestic resources, such as taxes. We must reduce the burden of women’s unpaid work, and guarantee equal pay for equal work.
We have the knowledge and the resources to create decent work and social protection floors for all women and men, reduce inequalities and eradicate extreme poverty. The post-2015 development agenda will show our political will to do so.