UN Secretary-General António Guterres urged governments around the world to invest quickly in creating quality jobs and providing social protection for those without coverage.
Guterres was speaking at a high-level session to discuss the Global Jobs and Social Protection Accelerator for Just Transitions initiative (https://bit.ly/3rfWGUk) during the UN General Assembly meetings in New York. He told leaders to focus on concrete solutions to implement the initiative, warning that “the path of inaction leads to economic collapse and climate catastrophe, widening inequalities and increasing social unrest.
This could leave billions trapped in vicious cycles of poverty and destitution.” The initiative, launched in 2021 by the United Nations International Labor Organization, brings together governments, international financial institutions, civil societies, the UN and the private sector to create 400 million new decent jobs, especially in the green sectors, of care and digital.
economies, and extend social protection to the more than 4 billion people around the world who are currently uninsured.
The session was also addressed by several leaders from around the world, including African Development Bank President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera, Ugandan Vice President Jessica Alupo, and the Minister of Planning and Economic Development of Egypt, Hala El-Said. The UN chief praised Togo for protecting thousands of its citizens during the Covid-19 pandemic after implementing “innovative digital solutions to expand social protection to hard-to-reach populations.”
For its part, South Africa was praised for launching the Just Energy transition partnership, marking an important step in the fight against climate change.
African Development Bank President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina highlighted the bank’s swift response to the Covid-19 pandemic by launching a $10 billion facility that helped provide social protection to more than 28 million people.
The bank also launched a $3 billion social impact bond in global capital markets in 2020, which at the time was the highest in world history.
“But that is not enough,” Dr. Adesina added, “We have to restructure our economies to be productive with education, infrastructure, energy and make sure we have productive sectors that can use people’s skills and absorb them into the economy.
“At the African Development Bank, we have taken a proactive work, work, work approach,” Adesina said.
As an example, she named the bank’s Jobs for Youth in Africa program to create 25 million jobs by 2025.
Nearly half of those jobs have already been delivered, she said.
To generate more jobs, Adesina cited sectors such as agriculture where the bank is investing $25 billion to transform rural areas and turn the sector into a business.
In the energy sector, Adesina gave the example of the Sahel region.
“We are investing $20 billion to build 10,000MW of electricity that will provide energy for productive use and create millions of jobs,” she Adesina said.
She added that it was time for Africa to build a manufacturing capacity for the polysilicon material used for solar panels “so we can create a lot of green jobs.”
The creative industry, especially Nigeria‘s film industry, popularly known as Nollywood, is another area that requires significant investment given its potential to generate $20 billion in revenue and create twenty million jobs, she Adesina said.
The UN expects every government to commit to the Global Accelerator initiative and its goals, among others, by developing national policies and integrated strategies for just transitions.
Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera said that given the financial constraints facing his country, implementing the initiative would require the support of partners, donors, international financial institutions and political support from the UN system.
He said that the overlapping crises of the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and war in Eastern Europe, Malawi must “deal with downgrades to our sovereign credit ratings, leading to higher borrowing costs and intensifying debt risks.
President Chakwera said that his country was ready to be part of the research work of the Global Accelerator initiative.
Ugandan Vice President Jessica Alupo said her government has launched efforts to increase jobs for Ugandans under 30, who make up 75% of the country’s population.
“We are increasing investment in skills development, supporting informal social enterprises to transition to the formal economy, and supporting the private sector to create jobs in key growth areas, including providing incentives to investors.
Egypt’s Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Hala El-Said, described various initiatives undertaken by her government to mitigate the impact of the crises on the people of Egypt.
“These include increasing the beneficiaries of the cash transfer program to reach 5 million families, as well as substantially increasing food rations benefiting more than 64 million Egyptians,” she said.
“The government has embarked on an ambitious program, the Decent Life Initiative, to renew rural communities and transform the lives of more than 50 million Egyptians in 4,500 villages, who make up more than half of the total population,” he added.