In preparation for the CEB discussion at its next session on employment and decent work, the Board was briefed by the Director-General of ILO. He began by thanking the Secretary-General for his leadership on the issue, and, in particular, for two important initiatives he had taken: (a) the creation of the youth employment network; and (b) the Secretary-General’s speech to the Heads of State of Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean in Vienna earlier in the year, where he had stressed that full and effective employment for all was not a developing country issue only, but should be pursued as a global concern.
In the subsequent discussion, the Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) stressed the need to look at “the missing middle”, that is, small- and medium-sized enterprises employing 20 to 50 people in urban areas that have the potential to partner and trade with entities in other parts of the world. The Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs confirmed that policy development to advance employment and decent work objectives was now recognized as a major priority in the work of the United Nations intergovernmental machinery. The Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP) reminded the Board that productive work was dependent on an educated, healthy and well-nourished workforce. The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East called attention to the unique situation of 165,000 Palestinian Authority employees who had employment and decent work but could not be paid for it.
The Secretary-General noted that there was strong interest in a discussion by the Board on employment and decent work at the spring session that would combine strategic considerations and concrete action. The preparations that the High Level Committee on Programmes were undertaking under the leadership of ILO augured well for a productive session in April.