Source: unic.org

The heads of the United Nations labour agency and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today joined other leaders to call for a broad global commitment to policies that focus on creating jobs to reverse the economic downturn bedevilling the world.

At a conference in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, hosted by the country's Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and co-sponsored by the IMF and the UN International Labour Organization (ILO), leaders from governments, labour, business and academia discussed the sharp rise in the rates of unemployment and underemployment since the financial crisis rocked the global economy in 2008.

“The international community must respond to the very real impact the crisis has had on working people,” said IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

“This gathering has helped to define the steps that must be taken to bring millions back into the workforce. Tackling the jobs crisis is not only critical for a meaningful global economic recovery, but also for social cohesion and peace,” he added.

Juan Somavia, ILO's Director-General, said: “When growth is not fair, it becomes unsustainable. This has been the overriding lesson of the crisis. High levels of employment creation should be a key macroeconomic objective alongside low inflation and sustainable budgets.

“We need to steer globalization in the right direction. For that we need coherence and balance across policies, as well as coordination and dialogue among institutions and nations. This conference has marked an important step in that direction,” Mr. Somavia added.

ILO estimates that the rate of unemployment has gone up by more than 30 million people worldwide since 2007. The increase in developed economies has been particularly severe, but the crisis also has hit emerging markets and developing economies.

The Oslo conference brought together senior government leaders, including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia; Prime Minister George Papandreou of Greece; and Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero of Spain. A large delegation of labour leaders was led by International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

IMF and ILO agreed at the conference to work together on policy development in two specific areas.

They will explore the concept of a “social protection floor” for people living in poverty and those in vulnerable situations within the context of a medium to long-term framework of sustainable macroeconomic policies and strategies for development.

Secondly, the two institutions will focus on policies to promote employment-creating growth.

There was also agreement on the central role that effective social dialogue can play in building the consensus needed to tackle the difficult adjustment challenges created by the crisis, and to ensure that the social consequences of crisis and its aftermath are taken fully into account.

The two institutions also agreed to continue and deepen their cooperation in support of the Group of 20 (G20) and its Mutual Assessment Process aimed at ensuring strong, sustained and balanced global growth.