A PACE delegation attending the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in New York held a side-event on "Decent work: building a sustainable future" to look at progress towards achieving decent work for all as part of the international community’s efforts under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
George Katrougalos (Greece, UEL), moderator of the event, held on 14 July, noted that decent work – the aim of UN Sustainable Development Goal No. 8 – is widely seen as central to achieving both sustainable development and building a resilient and just society: "This noble aspiration has been challenged by repeated setbacks in development, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, and we are still struggling with the aftermath. Yet we can ‘build back better’".
The panellists spoke of the strategic and structural challenges to which politicians and experts worldwide are trying to find appropriate policy answers. The panellists, which also included guest speakers from Human Rights Watch and the International Labour Organization, presented their views on policy choices as a way forward in several areas: the future of work organisation, artificial intelligence and labour markets, socio-economic measures to overcome the legacy of Covid, and efforts to eliminate hazardous child labour.
"The problem on the labour market is exacerbated when AI, digitisation and robotics come together in a concentrated manner. Many will lose their jobs, just as at the beginning of the industrial era," said Stefan Schennach (Austria, SOC), rapporteur on Artificial intelligence and labour markets: friend or foe?
Andrej Hunko (Germany, UEL), rapporteur on Overcoming the socio-economic crisis sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic, underlined that the structural challenges beyond the emergency should be addressed, so that "no-one is left behind".
"It is up to us to revisit our eco-social contract; to ensure our legislation and our international conventions are up-to-date in capturing evolving economic and social rights, including in the field of employment," said Selin Sayek Böke (Türkiye, SOC), Chairperson of the ad hoc committee and rapporteur on The future of work is here: revisiting labour rights. "Only then will we have a chance to achieve Goal 8 of the SDGs and guarantee economic security without leaving anyone behind."