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Decent Work and Economic Growth

Promote Sustained, Inclusive and Sustainable Economic Growth, Full and Productive Employment and Decent Work for All


SDG 8 seeks to promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth, employment and decent work for all. This requires maintaining per capita economic growth in accordance with national circumstances and achieving GDP growth of at least 7% per annum in the least developed countries. It is also necessary to promote policies that support productive activities and the creation of decent jobs, entrepreneurship and innovation.


Eradicating poverty will only be possible through stable and well-paid jobs. That is why it is vital to promote full and productive employment and decent work for all around the world. This will promote sustained, sustainable and inclusive economic growth, such as that generated by green jobs.

Following the global economic recession of 2009, global labor productivity began to rise and unemployment rates improved (albeit with large differences between regions). However, a decade later, in 2019, the global economy reached its lowest growth since 2008-2009. On top of this, such a picture has been exacerbated by the outbreak of COVID-19. The pandemic has caused a further slowdown in the economy and is shaking labor markets around the world. In particular, it is taking its toll on informal workers, the self-employed and those on daily pay. According to the SDG Progress Report (2020), it will lead to the largest increase in global unemployment since the Second World War. Moreover, the threat goes further, as the risk of child labor could increase.

The target of 7 % GDP growth in the least developed countries had not been achieved before the pandemic. In fact, the real GDP per capita growth rate was 2 % in 2018 (the same level as the average annual growth rate between 2010 and 2018). In 2019, the growth rate fell to 1.5 % and, following the coronavirus crisis, it is expected to sink to 0.8 % in 2020, before finally picking up in 2021 to a rate of 4.6 %[1].

As for the rate of labor productivity growth, it reached 1.6 per cent in 2018 and 1.4 per cent in 2019 but was very different across regions: while labor productivity declined in Latin America and the Caribbean, West Asia, and sub-Saharan and North Africa, it increased in all other countries, and rose quite rapidly in East, South-East, Central and South Asia.

In 2019, the unemployment rate stood at 5 per cent globally (in North Africa and West Asia 11 per cent of the labor force was unemployed) and the pandemic is expected to cause it to soar. No worker will be as hard hit as those in the informal economy (61% of workers worldwide were in informal employment in 2016). It is estimated that half of the global workforce (some 1.6 billion informal economy workers) will be significantly affected after the passage of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is estimated that the incomes of these workers were reduced by 60% in the first month of the coronavirus crisis (reaching 81% in certain regions).

If occupational safety and health was a major challenge before the emergence of COVID-19, the challenge is now much greater as some workers are exposed to unnecessary risks. Since 2010, more than 10 work-related deaths per 100,000 workers have been reported in nine of the 71 countries with available data since 2010.

Addressing the current situation and reversing this has become an overriding goal at the international level. For this reason, ensuring decent, inclusive and sustainable work is SDG 8 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, adopted in September 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda.


The specific targets set for 2030 are:

  • Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including youth and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value.

  • Eradicate forced and child labor and protect labour rights.

  • Adopt fiscal, wage and social protection policies and progressively achieve greater equality.

  • Protect labor rights and promote a safe and secure working environment, including for migrants (especially women).

  • Improve the efficient production and consumption of the world's resources and decouple economic growth from environmental degradation.

  • Ensure greater representation of developing countries in decisions taken by international economic and financial institutions.

COVID-19 has tremendously disrupted the world’s economy. The pandemic left the world’s informal employees, especially young workers and women, on their own with no support or protection against financial and health issues. Massive job losses enlarged market gender gap, informal workers’ lack of social safety, and decreased work and education opportunities for youth are examples of the pandemic impact on the economy. Furthermore, countries with tourism-based economies faced the biggest employment and financial crisis during the pandemic since their economy directly depends on tourists. The Corona Virus has reversed 30 years of progress in the tourism industry in less than two years.

[1] Vereinte Nationen. Ziele für nachhaltige Entwicklung. Bericht 2021


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