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Future of work a future that includes everyone

Ameenah Gurib-Fakim
& Stefan Lfven

Monday, August 21, 2017

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It is our belief that work is the foundation for people and societies to grow. With a decent income, work can pave the way for broader social and economic advancement, strengthening individuals, their families and communities.

Yet technology, demography, climate change, and globalisation are transforming work more quickly, more profoundly, and on a greater scale than ever before. These changes have great potential, but we also face many uncertainties about the future of work. The fear that while some may benefit greatly from these sweeping changes, many will not, has become a major concern, not least at a time when so many countries are facing high unemployment.

And if too many people worry that they are being left behind and that our societies are no longer capable of delivering positive change, there is a strong chance that disruptive forces will undermine growth and destabilise social and political harmony. Indeed, the tendency that we are witnessing of a shift towards populist thinking is one of the key challenges of our time.

Therefore, we need to support the job-creating potential of the shift to environmental sustainability and a fair and open world trading system, founded on strong values of rights, freedom and solidarity. Globalisation must benefit all. Only people who feel safe in the present can welcome an uncertain future.

Rather than adopting a wait-and-see approach, we must think seriously about the future of work that we want and how to get there. The future is not predetermined and can be influenced by the societal choices and policies that we make today.

To generate ideas and solutions for addressing these fundamental work-related challenges, we have agreed to co-chair the new Global Commission on the Future of Work that will be launched today in Geneva by the International Labour Organization (ILO). This commission, which is part of the ILO's Future of Work Initiative, brings together eminent thinkers and practitioners from around the world. It will report to the ILO's member states in 2019. The Global Commission on the Future of Work is a body of 20 experts who will come together to tackle the fundamental question of how a rapidly transforming world of work should be organised so that it responds to the values of social justice.

This initiative is, indeed, a truly global effort — over 100 countries have held national dialogues with governments, employers, and workers to elaborate on approaches to meet the future challenges in the labour market. The contribution of the commission will also be an important part of the follow-up to the landmark 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Goal eight, in particular, entails promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all.

For almost a century the ILO has made a significant contribution to making the world of work a much better place. It has done this by bringing together representatives of governments, workers and employers to promote social justice.

By recognising that the future of work is ours to create, rather than one imposed by forces which we are powerless to control, we are convinced that the future holds a powerful message of hope. We are committed to leading this global commission in that spirit, and to focus on concrete solutions, policy advice and best practices, with the goal of making the future of work a future that includes everyone.

Ameenah Gurib-Fakim is the president of the Republic of Mauritius and Stefan Lfven is the prime minister of Sweden.

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