SDG 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
SDG 8 promotes sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all. It includes higher levels of productivity and technological innovation, encouraging entrepreneurship and decent job creation, access to financial services and protecting labour rights.
These issues, which cut across the action areas, are at the heart of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. The global context chapter (chapter I) provides data on growth and employment. It highlights the lack of sufficient growth in least developed countries, as well as continuing challenges in generating sufficient employment. The chapter notes that hundreds of millions of workers are living in poverty despite being employed, and that youth employment remains a challenge. Gender disparities in workforce participation and pay are stubbornly wide. The global context chapter also points to a decline in the labour share of income (and a corresponding increase in the profit share) over the last several decades, as a structural factor linked to growing inequality in some countries. Wage growth has lagged labour productivity growth, while the profit share has been rising. Insufficient welfare gains for the broader population risk lowering demand and economic growth. Informality of businesses undermines the enforcement of labour rights and safe working conditions. Chapter III.A on domestic public resources examines the role fiscal policy can play in addressing labour market challenges, including in the informal economy. Policymakers can use fiscal systems to incentivize the formalization and growth of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (section 3). Policymakers can also create an enabling business environment that encourages entrepreneurship and a vibrant business sector, as discussed in chapter III.B (sections 3 and 4). Access to financial services is a key component of this enabling environment. While financial inclusion has improved in recent years, significant gaps remain between developed and developing countries (section 6). Policymakers can encourage a range of tools to strengthen financial inclusion. Financial technology (fintech) has successfully fostered financial inclusion in a number of countries, but has also led to new risks and challenges (chapter III.G, section 4). The regulatory framework for financial institutions, covered in chapter III.F, will need to shift from looking at the type of financial institution providing financial services to the underlying risks associated with the financial activity, with international regulatory standards also needing to adapt to the new landscape (section 3). Financial sector strategies should holistically address financial inclusion, deepening and stability, along with consumer protection. There is significant uncertainty about the long-term impact of technology and innovation on jobs and decent work. Chapter III.G focuses on the impacts of technologies on labour markets and employment (section 3), addressing the fear that rapid advances in artificial intelligence could make the labour of millions of people redundant. Automation has led to a high concentration of profits among a few companies and locations, contributing to growing income inequality and job polarization. Governments can encourage innovation that creates new jobs and ensures that social protection systems adapt, while investing in lifelong learning that enables upskilling and re-skilling. Member States of the United Nations have prescribed Aid for Trade as a means of implementation for SDG 8 (target 8.a). Aid for Trade aims to help developing countries, and in particular least developed countries, build the supply-side capacity and trade-related infrastructure they need to implement and benefit from multilateral trade agreements. Chapter III.D describes the progress (section 5.4), which has been steady since 2006, although the most recent year’s data showed a decline. Ensuring Aid for Trade is aligned with country priorities for infrastructure and industrialization, and is incorporated in integrated national financing frameworks, will contribute to implementation of the 2030 Agenda.