Malte Luebker recalls that employment and labour issues were entirely absent from the initial set of MDGs, and that only in 2005, somewhat hastily, a new target was added to address this oversight. He therefore welcomes that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development makes ample reference to employment and inequality. Goal 8 is devoted to ‘Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all’ and expands on two familiar themes, productivity and employment, while adding labour rights as a new element. The more nuanced treatment of labour arguably presents a notable advance in attaining a wider set of progressive policies concerned with addressing rising inequalities. While the SDGs are strong on some policies that have direct impact on the primary and secondary distribution of incomes, they lack an explicit endorsement of freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. Hence, they fail to mention the mechanisms that give workers a voice and a meaningful stake in development.
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Edited by Peter A.G. van Bergeijk and Rolph van der Hoeven
Tony Addison reviews, for the Africa region, the years leading up to the MDGs – including the legacies of structural adjustment and conflict. Africa has yet to achieve the level and speed of structural transformation that is required to meet the SDGs. The last decade’s super-cycle in commodities seems to be over, dangerously exposing the weakness of the ‘African lions’ and their undiversified growth model. Moreover, African policymakers have yet to absorb the implications for investment in their extractive industries of what real progress on international climate change agreements will mean for the demand for Africa’s exports of fossil fuels. The development states that Africa needs to create must have a deep knowledge of what the private sector is capable of achieving. Then high-value synergies of private and state action can be identified and acted upon – while ensuring that business operates within a framework of supporting regulation that protects the public interest.