Sustainable Development

From Sept. 4 to 5, heads of state and government from nineteen countries and the European Union will gather in Hangzhou, China for the 11th G20 summit. The theme of this year’s conference is “Towards an Innovative, Invigorated, Interconnected and Inclusive World Economy”, a motto which many officials and experts find encouraging.

In an interview with the Xinhua News Agency, China’s state-owned media outlet, Atsushi Sunami, the vice president of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) in Tokyo, explained that the G20 summit could forge consensus on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Adopted by the U.N. last fall, the 2030 Agenda includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and aims to end poverty and hunger by the end of the third decade in the 21st century.

Sunami also called on countries to work together and build innovation across borders. The conference in Hangzhou, in his view, could jump-start the dialogue on open innovation and inclusive development.

Also speaking with Xinhua, Peter Thompson, who will be the president of the upcoming 71st Session of the U.N. General Assembly, voiced his support for the summit’s theme as well as the U.N.’s desire to work with the G20 organizers. “We will certainly be doing our part here at the United Nations in terms of the G20 outcome to make sure it’s built into the international implementation plans,” he said.

Likewise, Daniel Funes de Rioja, President of the International Organization of Employers (IOE), expressed his hope that the G20 summit will be a step in the direction of inclusive development. “Prosperity requires growth, investment, technology and innovation, with employment and social coverage for all,” according to de Rioja.

Indeed, while the G20 is primarily a forum for leaders of the developed world, developing countries are also starting to make their voices heard.

Senegal, which will be present at the summit in Hangzhou, sees the G20 as a platform to call attention to African issues as well as an opportunity to explore solutions. Alioune Sarr, the country’s commerce minister, told China Central Television (CCTV) that the conference will highlight the necessity of poverty eradication and inclusive development on the continent.

The G20 has consistently underscored the importance of international cooperation when it comes to solving the world’s problems, and the renewed emphasis on inclusive development and shared prosperity is certainly a welcome change.

Philip Katz

Photo: Flickr

Gender Employment Equality
At the G20 Summit 2014, leaders have agreed to tackle the persisting gender employment gap in their respective countries. The final agreement is to decrease the gap by 25 percent by 2025.

The gender employment gap varies from region to region. Developed regions generally have a lower gap, while developing regions have a higher gap. Currently in OECD countries, where the gap is one of the lowest, there is a 12 percent difference between the sustained, legal employment of men and women. In North Africa and the Middle East, where the gap is the one of the highest, there is a 50 percent difference in employment between men and women.

Ways of tackling the gap also vary region-to-region and country-to-country. Approaches include increasing access to education and childcare and making maternity leave options more attractive and widely available. More innovative approaches include things like fostering women in business and finance, creating opportunities for women in the public sector and encouraging investment in higher education for women.

Reaching the goal of decreasing the gap by 25 percent will add 100 million jobs for women across the world and add $1 trillion to the global economy.

In 2015, Turkey will take over leadership of the Summit. As the G20 country with one of the highest gender employment gaps, as well as its position at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and the Middle East, Turkey and its leadership will be in the spotlight on this issue. For them especially, tackling the gap will mean pulling a large number of people into the workforce, which will create opportunities for households in poverty to have another income-generator.

The G20, in an official statement, said that this agreement “will significantly increase global growth and reduce poverty and inequality.” The G20 acts, in some ways, as an agenda-setter for the rest of the world. Effects on the gender employment gap could be seen in much more impoverished areas of the world simply because it is being addressed by the biggest economies in the world market. Employing women and expanding the workforce increases generated income, possibly creating drastic, positive outcomes for poorer, smaller economies.

– Caitlin Huber

Sources: The Australian, Work Place Information, University of Toronto
Photo: Employer Rights Blog