UN chief calls for accelerated action on jobs, social protection
UNITED NATIONS: Investing in job-rich growth, social protection and a just transition to a net-zero emissions future, could prevent a further deepening of the inequalities between developed and developing economies that have been exacerbated during the coronavirus pandemic, UN secretary general Antonio Guterres said in a policy brief.
“Global solidarity so far has been completely inadequate,” the UN chief said. “A renewed social contract…should be central to the recovery.”
According to the policy brief, extreme poverty increased between 119 and 224 million people between March and December 2020, the first such increase in over 21 years.
More than three-quarters of these ‘new poor’ are in middle-income countries. At the same time, the wealth of billionaires increased by over $3.9 trillion.
The report noted that because of the pandemic, there are an estimated 75 million fewer jobs in 2021 than there were before the crisis, and 23 million fewer projected in 2022.
It also estimates that 8.8 per cent of the total working hours were lost in 2020, equivalent to the hours worked in a year by 255 million full-time workers.
This corresponds to a loss of $3.3 trillion in labour income before the government support. To achieve “a job-rich recovery” and a “just transition”, at least $982 billion is needed to respond to the immediate labour market shocks of the crisis, the report said.
The UN secretary general called for universal social protection by 2030, including universal healthcare, income protection, education and skills training, particularly for women and girls.
The many ad hoc and temporary measures that have been implemented over the last year “provide a starting point”, Guterres noted.
“To achieve this, we must mobilise significant public and private investments, some $1.2 trillion to achieve universal social protection coverage for [the] low- and middle-income countries,” he said.
Investments must also be ramped up to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and address the risks from climate change that could jeopardise 1.2 billion jobs, equivalent to 40 per cent of the global labour force.
During the presentation, Guterres announced the creation of a new Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection for a Just Transition, in collaboration with the International Labour Organization.
The aim of the accelerator is to create at least 400 million jobs by 2030, primarily in the green and care economies, and extend social protection floors by 2025 to 50 per cent of the people currently not covered, he said.
The upcoming meetings of the international financial institutions, the G-20 (industrialised countries), and COP26 (Climate Summit in Glasgow) will be “a pivotal moment to put the world on a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive path,” Guterres said.
“[The] global cooperation is indispensable to building resilience to future shocks, through economies that work for everyone.”
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