From Poverty to Decent Work: Bridging the Gap

13 Oct 2010

Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator
Message on the International Day for the eradication of poverty
17 October 2010

The human development approach asserts that development is about far more than just increasing GDP per capita. Fundamentally, development must also be about improving people’s ability to shape their own lives.

The global recession forced many millions of workers into unemployment, or into less secure and more vulnerable employment. The number of workers struggling to survive on under $2 a day is estimated to be as high as 1.4 billion worldwide.
 
Employment can offer a sustainable route out of poverty, but paid employment alone is often not enough to achieve human development. This is why this year’s theme for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, with its focus on decent work, is so timely.

Decent work is about quality jobs and fairness, enabling people to realise their capabilities and to live fulfilling lives, thus reducing their susceptibility to poverty, morbidity, hunger, and disease.  Decent work is essential to advancing human development and meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

The International Labour Organization’s “Global Jobs Pact” provides a model for both lifting employment levels and supporting decent work.   The Pact proposes an active labour market and social protection initiatives, including working to retain existing jobs and creating new jobs, including in the green economy.  It also proposes supporting the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, and up-skilling workers.

Young people, who can be huge drivers of innovation and economic development, must not be overlooked.   Decent work for youth, who currently have the highest unemployment rate ever recorded, is critical not only to sustained growth but also to social stability.

Last month, world leaders came to New York to assess progress on the Millennium Development Goals and commit to accelerating progress to achieve them. 

Job rich growth which includes decent work can help pave the path.