Trade unions have welcomed the adoption of the Ministerial Declaration by the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) as it recognises decent work, social protection and climate resilient investments with just transitions as key pillars for recovery. But this must now be translated into government action.


This year’s HLPF focused on ways to ensure a sustainable and resilient recovery from COVID-19 in line with the SDGs. This included a review of progress on SDG 8.

The Ministerial Declaration reaffirms governments’ commitment to the SDGs as the “global blueprint” to respond to the pandemic and build “a better future for all”.

Trade unions welcomed:

  • references to the decent work agenda;
  • a commitment to protection of labour rights and occupational health and safety for all;
  • a pledge to eradicate forced and child labour;
  • the creation of “conditions for decent work for all, including for those in the informal economy”;
  • the promotion of sustainable business practices;
  • the call for investments in the care economy;
  • the recognition of women’s disproportionate share of unpaid care and domestic work;
  • and the need to close the gender gap in the labour market.

Even though the Declaration misses the opportunity to explicitly refer to universal social protection, it is vocal on the need for all countries to extend social protection coverage, including social protection floors.

Universal social protection is not only a fundamental human right but an essential component of long-term global recovery and resilience and should be scaled up also by establishing a Global Social Protection Fund for the least wealthy countries.

In this respect, the ITUC welcomed the Declaration urging developed countries to fulfil their ODA commitments and to scale up those efforts and called for enhanced international support and strengthened global partnerships to eradicate poverty.

As recognised by the Declaration, progressive taxation is crucial for strengthening domestic resource mobilisation to fighting inequalities.

Trade unions strongly support the call for “immediate investment in climate-resilient, inclusive and just transitions” as an important element of sustainable, inclusive and climate-responsive economic recovery policies from the Covid-19 crisis.

Regrettably, although the Declaration commits to “pursuing multilateral solutions guided by global solidarity in responding to the pandemic”, it does not recognise the current urgent need for universal and free access to Covid-19 vaccines and health care services.

Trade unions were disappointed that there was no reference to inclusive multilateralism where social dialogue can play a key role. Only a truly inclusive multilateral system where social partners are on board and have a say will make the difference and pave the way to global resilience.

The dramatic state of play of the SDGs requires unprecedented ambition and true solidarity. As the UN Secretary-General pointed out: “…one critical ingredient is still missing: political will.” That is why we need world leaders to walk the talk to lead the way in making a New Social Contract a reality in the SDG Decade of Action.

Photo credit: ITUC.