Decent Rural Employment

FAO strongest in mainstreaming full employment and decent work


According to the Joint Inspection Unit of the United Nations System, FAO is leading the UN organizations’ efforts in mainstreaming full employment and decent work.

Full and productive employment and decent work for all are internationally agreed objectives which are reflected under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development - Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. In this context, the UN General Assembly has tasked the various organizations of the United Nations system to mainstream decent work in their policies, programmes and activities.

A review of how the United Nations entities have responded to the UN General Assembly’s call was published by the Joint Inspection Unit in 2015. The objective of this evaluation was to identify what mainstreaming mechanisms have been put in place within the UN system - beyond the International Labour Organization (ILO) - and identify the main challenges faced in integrating decent work issues at different levels.

Evaluation Findings

According to the evaluation, the overall response of the UN system to the request of mainstreaming decent work was a moderate success, although there were some significant differences between headquarter and country offices in certain cases. Indeed, while the country level response has been strong, at global level there is a significant variation of efforts to integrate decent work into programmes and policies, ranging in a five-step scale from no visible signs of mainstreaming to strongly mainstreamed.

In this context, the Inspectors found that FAO has been able to strongly mainstream decent work. The assessment highlights that FAO is one of the few organizations where a focal point on the decent work agenda has been named and many publications and toolkits have been developed. The evaluation also acknowledged that FAO is working to make decent work an integral part of its strategic framework:

FAO took the issue of decent rural employment to their Board for its approval, based on the understanding that it needed to expand its mandate to work on decent work, and that led to incorporating decent work successfully into its strategic plans and guidance documents for its implementation.

According to the Inspectors, FAO has fully embedded the concept of decent rural employment within the programming process, linking it to global and field activities through a coherent approach.

The FAO staff interviewed both in Rome and some at the field level was well aware of decent work issues. [...] With the new strategic framework, which included decent work elements, it was expected that it would have firmly embedded decent work in its organizational work.

The evaluation also states that there is room for improvements. For instance, the knowledge-sharing mechanism within FAO has been pointed out as one aspect that could be enhanced in the future.

Way Forward

Overall, the Inspectors identified missed opportunities to mainstream decent work within the UN system, mainly due to the lack of a sustained awareness raising strategy. According to the evaluation, awareness-raising and training activities should be put in place across the entire system, including the country level.

In response to this need, FAO elevated its commitment towards decent rural employment with a dedicated Outcome within its renewed Strategic Framework, fostering and implementing a comprehensive and coherent approach to the issue. In particular, the Organization is intensifying the provision of support and capacity development to Member Countries in the formulation and implementation of policies that generate decent rural employment, with special focus on rural youth and women’s economic and social empowerment.

FAO is developing a set of e-learning materials on decent rural employment to be delivered to FAO staff worldwide, taking advantage of the distance-learning methods. In particular, an e-learning course titled End Child Labour in Agriculture will be launched before the end of 2015, followed by a broader e-learning course on decent rural employment, which will be released in 2016. Such course builds upon the existing knowledge and guidance products developed by the Organization and will condensate several learning materials in one product, along with references to tools, methodologies, guidelines, and country case studies. The course aims at enhancing the capacities of FAO staff to effectively promote decent rural employment and improving the availability and cost-effectiveness of trainings for countries, complementing and building on country-level actions for capacity development.

The new Decent Rural Employment thematic website is also part of the broader FAO’s awareness raising and knowledge-sharing strategy. The site is thought as a one-stop-source providing essential information and a set of complete resources and guidance material on decent rural employment. The website will be also integrated with a decent rural employment policy database, currently under development, which will provide staff and practitioners with a comprehensive overview of countries’ efforts and capacity to support decent rural employment at national level, facilitating the identification of specific entry points for FAO's work.

> Download the full Evaluation and the Summary Report