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Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

Sustainable economic growth will pave the way for societies to create the conditions that allow people to have quality jobs, stimulating the economy while not harming the environment.

Quality jobs are particularly needed in rural areas where most of the world’s poor live and work. Agriculture is the world’s single largest employer, especially so in developing countries where it generates a sizeable share of GDP. Responsible investments in sustainable agriculture and food systems can contribute to major societal benefits, including reduced inequalities, inclusive growth, and the creation of decent jobs.

Investment in the food and agriculture sector is low with smallholders making greater investments than governments, donors and private enterprises all combined. Investments are increasingly dominated by domestic resources, while the relative importance of official development assistance flows is likely to decrease.

Policies and public investments must increase the investment capacity and access to finance and investments of smallholder producers, as well as micro, small and medium enterprises engaged in the food system. Fundamental to the enabling environment will be government investment in essential public goods and services.

However, agriculture cannot handle the employment challenge alone. In addition to farm jobs, there is significant potential for job creation through rural non-farm economic activities, including around agrifood chains linked to sustainable agriculture, agribusiness development and related support services.

Employment generation policies targeting rural youth would help rejuvenate the agricultural and rural work force and harness youth’s energy and capacity to innovate. Better job prospects for the youth in rural areas would also contribute to reducing distressed migration to urban areas, where labour markets are often already saturated. 

Facts and figures

  • Global unemployment reached 197 million in 2015, of which about 75 million are young women and men.
  • Nearly 2.2 billion people live below the US$2 poverty line and around 80 percent of the world’s extreme poor live in rural areas where most are dependent on agriculture.
  • Agriculture is the single largest employer in the world: the sector employs about 60 per cent of workers in less developed countries.
  • Agricultural growth in low-income and agrarian economies is at least twice as effective as growth in other sectors in reducing hunger and poverty.
  • Almost 60 percent of all child labour is found in agriculture, affecting nearly 100 million children
  • Globally, less than 20 per cent of agricultural workers have access to basic social protection.
  • Only 10 percent of rural workers are unionized.
  • 470 million jobs are needed globally for new entrants to the labour market between 2016 and 2030.
  • The private sector is responsible for most investments in agriculture, and this is expected to continue in the future.
  • Farmers themselves, including family farmers, are by far the largest private investors in primary agriculture. 

SDG8 Targets

  1. Sustain per capita economic growth in accordance with national circumstances and, in particular, at least 7 per cent gross domestic product growth per annum in the least developed countries.
  2. Achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labour-intensive sectors.
  3. Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services.
  4. Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production, with developed countries taking the lead.
  5. By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value.
  6. By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training.
  7. Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.
  8. Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment.
  9. By 2030, devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products.
  10. Strengthen the capacity of domestic financial institutions to encourage and expand access to banking, insurance and financial services for all.

a. Increase Aid for Trade support for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, including through the Enhanced Integrated Framework for Trade-Related Technical Assistance to Least Developed Countries.

b. By 2020, develop and operationalize a global strategy for youth employment and implement the Global Jobs Pact of the International Labour Organization.

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