ILO joins Expert Dialogue on Dignified Work for all at the 61st Session of the Committee on Social Development

The Expert Dialogue on Dignified Work for all, as organized by ATD Fourth World, took place on Tuesday February the 7th evening.

News | 22 February 2023
The expert dialogue, organized by ATD Fourth World sought to explore how, in practice, work can enable people to live in dignity, to support their families and to be recognized as useful members of their society. The dialogue brought together activists with a lived experience of poverty and representatives of social and solidarity economy (SSE) initiatives from France and the US. Two other speakers came from the UN, ILO COP Unit Manager and the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights. Topics of discussion during the dialogue included the importance of addressing poverty-based discrimination, creating work opportunities to generate new economic resources and re-establish social engagement, to ensure the rights, dignity, and well-being of all, especially that of individuals and families with a lived experience of poverty. The delegation from France presented the project Territories of Zero Long Term Unemployment (TZCLD) a network of experimental enterprises, which hire, on a voluntary basis, long-term unemployed people on permanent contracts, at minimum wage and on time, to do work that is locally useful but not carried out because it is considered unprofitable for the traditional market.

The UN Special Rapporteur talked about recent research by ATD Fourth World in partnership with Oxford University. This project took place in six countries: Bangladesh, Bolivia, France, Tanzania, the United Kingdom and the United States on hidden dimensions of poverty. This research showed that people in poverty talked about not only about lack of access to decent work, lack of income, and material deprivations, but also about institutional and social maltreatment, discrimination, and lack of recognition of their contributions to society. He indicated that in his most recent report on extreme poverty and human rights he discussed how discrimination against people in poverty operates and how it can be addressed.

Working and Learning Together - Electronics Recycling (WALTER), an eco-social business in Brooklyn, New York that offers zero landfill recycling services meeting high environmental standards was the next experience shared. Operating in a under-resourced neighbourhood in Brownsville, the representatives of WALTER talked about how they provide job opportunities for people, especially disadvantaged youth, facing persistent barriers to employment. They noted that they aim to show that no one is unemployable and with collective mobilization, the economy can be at the service of people and the planet.

Ms. Esim, Manager of the ILO’s COOP Unit which is responsible for the social and solidarity economy portfolio started her presentation by clarifying what the ILO means by decent work. The Declaration of Philadelphia in the ILO Constitution affirms that “all human beings, irrespective of race, creed or sex, have the right to pursue both their material well-being and their spiritual development in conditions of freedom and dignity, of economic security and equal opportunity” she noted. Since 1999, work in such conditions is known as decent work, she added.

She then talked about the ILC resolution on decent work and the SSE that was adopted last year. The resolution includes a tripartite international definition of the SSE. She noted that a seven-year Office-wide strategy and action plan is in place in follow up to the resolution. Finally, she pointed out that the UN Task Force on the social and solidarity economy is supporting a core group of fourteen Member States, led by Spain with the support of Chile, France, and Senegal, on a possible UN resolution on the SSE for sustainable development.

A video recording of the session is available through here.