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UNDP launches 2015 report on links between work and human development

UNDP Administrator Helen Clark with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn during the launch of the 2015 Human Development Report.
UNDP Administrator Helen Clark with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn during the launch of the 2015 Human Development Report. UNDP

The United Nations Development Programme on Monday released its annual human development report which this year is called "Work for Human Development". The findings argue that the notion of work is broader and deeper than either that of jobs or employment alone, and that finding enough decent work for everyone is one of the world's biggest development challenges.


In itself the UNDP's 'Work for Human Development' report, complete with graphs, complex animation and produced interviews goes a long way in showing what creative output can achieve.

The report considers work in all its forms, both paid and unpaid, legal and illegal. It looks at when, where and how people work, and the linkages between this and human development as defined by the UNDP.

"What we say is that economic development as such does not automatically translate into human development," UNDP Adminstrator Helen Clark told RFI by telephone. "And so it's very important that governments have clear strategy and vision for how to improve the well-being of people. That means investing in the basics - investing in education, investing in health. Having economic strategies which focus on the poorest people in the sectors where they work."

The report presents several concrete findings, such as the fact that men account for two-thirds of the world's paid workers, and that working women receive 24 per cent less than their male counterparts.

It concludes that to date human progress has been uneven, with significant human potential unused, misused and abused.

It says more than 200 million people with 74 million young people are out of work and that more than 800 million working poor are living on less than $2 a day.

"What about the opportunities for young people? Because there is a huge job deficit with youth, globally," Clark told RFI. "What about the position of women? If women have more access and equal opportunity in the world of paid work, wouldn't that enhance their wellbeing and also lift entire economies and societies?

"What will it take to achieve more sustainable development? And now of course we have to implement this ambitious new climate agreement that has come out of Paris. This will be disruptive to some traditional jobs [...] But there will be new opportunities to come out of this."

The International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) based in Paris has been working to ensure that as many African countries do business with China, leaders recall that business is only good business when it enhances and protects people's lives.

"The right to work and also to be protected as a worker is fundamental for the development of acountry, and especially for countries in Africa," FIDH Africa Director Florent Geel told RFI. "Regarding the incredible progress and results in terms of African economies over the last decade, now the main challenge facing Africa is to legalise this work and to give some protections to workers. Of course this will have consewuences in terms of democracy, governance and the stability of the continent."

According to the UNDP report, about 1.5 billion people are working in jobs with inadequate protections, security and safety.

Clark said when asked by someone in Ethiopia about whether the idea of cheap labour wasn't a comparative advantage in low-income countries, she made the point that there was a difference between cheap labour and exploitation, with exploitation never to be tolerated.

The full report runs hundreds of pages long and can be found on the UNDP's website.


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