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ILO Solution Forum: South-South Cooperation – Decent Work Solutions

ILO Solution FormThe ILO Solution Forum was held in Washington, DC from 17- 21 November. It was convened within the Global South-South Development Expo (GSSD), and focused on ILO projects in different contexts worldwide linked to sustainable development and decent work, with a view to linkages to the post-2015 framework. The themes of the Solution Forum included social protection, combating child labour, the social and solidarity economy, and fragile-to-fragile cooperation and social justice, which were organized across four segments.

Global South-South Development Expos: Decent Work Solutions

The first segment, moderated by Anita Amorim, Head of the ILO Emerging and Special Partnerships Unit, served to launch the joint International Labour Organization and United Nations Office of South-South Cooperation (ILO-UNOSSC) publication, the result of ongoing support to SSTC initiatives. The report highlights the need to scale up initiatives showcased during previous GSSD Expos as a means to promote development cooperation, including horizontal knowledge transfers and social justice – and to give visibility to Southern solutions in the world of work, and make them accessible to different countries.

Access the report here.

South-South Cooperation and Social and Solidarity Economy and Cooperatives in Asia and Africa

Introducing this segment, Jürgen Schwettmann, Director of the ILO Department of Partnerships and Field Support, stressed that SSTC was an instrument to strengthen social and solidarity economy (SSE) and decent work. The convergence between SSE and SSTC arrangements was a strategy for the ILO to promote social and economic inclusion in the framework of the post-2015 development framework. SSTC was based on a spirit of solidarity, through which developing countries were able to provide sustainable solutions to their own problems at a lower cost. In this sense, South-South cooperation initiatives – including the identification of good practices and their adaptation and replication in other countries – were fundamental to the dissemination of decent work outcomes, he stressed.

Benjamin Quinones, Chairman of the Asian Solidarity Economy Council (ASEC), described the links between the SSE and SSTC in the Asian context and introduced the SELJ, a solidarity project by civil society organizations (CSOs) in Asia engaged in socio-economic development, which enabled partner CSOs from various Asian countries to exchange SSE information and experience. The initiative started with the First Asian Solidarity Economy Forum in Manila in October 2007, and is organized every two years. In 2011, collaborating CSOs established the ASEC, and national chapters have been established in Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal and the Philippines, enabling South-South exchanges of experience. Regional coordinating centres have also been set up in South Asia, Southeast Asia and East Asia.

Mr. Quinones drew attention to the contribution that SSE can make to local economic and social development as it promotes a participatory development process that brings together local government, the private sector, civil society organizations and local communities; strengthens the organizational capacity of communities; can help them to overcome underdevelopment and poverty; and facilitates territorial development.  In addition, SSTC can help enhance the social and solidarity economy in numerous ways, including:
• strengthening cooperation between countries in SSE knowledge-sharing, training of human resources or replication of strategies;
• bolstering the cooperation of a country of the North with two or more countries in the South in supporting SSE development;
• supporting SSE innovations that increase the productivity of local resources and/or enhance the effectiveness of development programmes; and
• supporting partnerships between SSE stakeholders that are inclusive and which involve a multilateral approach to the integration of the Decent Work Agenda.

Microinsurance Innovation Facility

Yoseph Aseffa, Project Coordinator of the ILO Microinsurance Innovation Facility (MIF), presented the Facility, which was launched in 2008 to explore better ways to protect the lives and enhance the livelihoods of low-income people, through enhanced policies, skills development, enterprise and cooperative management, and financial inclusion. Mr. Aseffa highlighted benefits of microinsurance – which can be scaled up through SSTC, including:
• protecting low-income households and enterprises against economic losses (from illness, death, accident, disability, loss of assets, loss of crops or livestock) at an affordable cost;
• serving as collateral for lending to low-income borrowers; protecting lenders against the risk of unpaid debts;
• enabling low-income businesses of youth and women to succeed without fear of enterprise risks.

He provided a number of examples from different countries that had created partnerships and experience-sharing through the MIF framework, including Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique.

Microinsurance activities had also made it possible to introduce viable cooperative business models for women NGOs and prisons; to create partnership models for microfinance institutions and cooperatives; and to provide technical support to partners that provided rural agricultural insurance pilot projects for crop and livestock insurance.

Mr. Aseffa briefly introduced the Organization for Women in Self Employment (WISE), an umbrella NGO for 12,000 self-employed women, with 10,000 of them organized under producer, marketing, and savings and credit cooperatives (SACCO). The ILO helped to support cooperative management and business skills training, financial education and microinsurance, and innovation grants were provided for women entrepreneurs that introduced successful ideas to create sustainable businesses. Activities to promote knowledge-sharing with sister NGOs and training institutions in India and Kenya, as well as with regional women groups from different parts of Ethiopia, had also been organized, providing opportunities for cross-learning. Through its activities, WISE has created an active and vibrant network of marketing and commodity exchanges, knowledge-sharing and community support, Mr. Aseffa indicated.

Fragile-to-Fragile Cooperation and Social Justice

Jürgen Schwettmann introduced this segment by pointing out that SSTC is first and foremost based on the principle of solidarity and non-conditionality, and aims to provide an innovative response to global challenges that better adapts development policies to the needs of countries. The objectives and practices of SSTC are aligned with the principles of national ownership and self-assessment of “fragile-to-fragile” cooperation mechanisms as outlined in the Dili Consensus of the g7+. The g7+, based in Dili, Timor Leste, is a platform for conflict-affected States and serves to promote peacebuilding and State building as the foundation for transition out of the margins of conflict to the next stage of sustainable development.

Helder da Costa provided an overview of the New Deal for fragile States agreed in Busan in November 2011 during the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness. Mr. da Costa informed participants that 1.5 billion people lived in conflict-affected and fragile States; about 70% of fragile States have been in conflict since 1980; basic governance transformations may take 20 to 40 years; and half of official development assistance (ODA) is spent in fragile and conflict-affected contexts. Therefore, Mr. da Costa pointed out, fragile-to-fragile (F2F) cooperation allows conflict-affected and fragile States to raise a single voice vis-à-vis the global development agenda by having a common vision and a uniform plan.

Following the discussion on fragile States in its Governing Body, the ILO had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the g7+ in March 2014, aimed at facilitating peer learning among the g7+ and with other developing and least developed countries, with a focus on F2F cooperation between the g7+ Member States as well as SSTC. In addition, the MoU seeks to enhance coordination between development partners and g7+ Member States on matters of international labour migration policy, as well as the socio-economic reintegration of refugees and other citizens of fragile States, particularly within the same region and in neighbouring States. It also aims to develop and provide national, regional and international labour market statistics.

Turning his focus to prospects for SSTC in fragile States, Mr. da Costa said that these countries face similar challenges and situations, and as they develop solutions to cope with current difficulties, the potential for South-South Cooperation increases, taking into account the sharing and adaptation of these solutions into analogous contexts. Through peer sharing and lessons learned, their successes and failures inform a new and better understanding of their own conditions and necessary steps for transition.

Concluding the discussion, Mr. Schwettmann indicated that collaboration with constituents is fundamental for the ILO in the process of supporting national partners in the promotion of social justice. Within this framework, the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda establishes social dialogue as a cornerstone to achieve social peace. Close cooperation with workers’ organizations is essential to promote employment opportunities, vocational training and social protection, which are vital areas to the pursuit of sustainable development, he stressed.

Eradicating Child Labour through South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC)

This segment focused on current efforts in Latin America and the Caribbean to eradicate child labour through SSTC. Paula Montagner, Deputy Secretary at the Ministry of Social Development of Brazil, presented the outcomes of the III Global Conference on Child Labour, held in Brazil in October 2013.  One outcome was the Brasilia Declaration on Child Labour, which acknowledges the need to accelerate the pace of elimination of child labour; emphasizes the need for appropriate legal and institutional frameworks; draws attention to the concept of sustained eradication of child labour; and highlights the importance of accurate and disaggregated statistics, amongst others. Another important outcome of the Global Conference was the declaration by adolescents participating in the Conference, which emphasizes the need to strengthen public policies aimed at child labour, with special attention to:
• agriculture and domestic child labour;
• broadening income transfer programmes to eradicate poverty;
• integrating education, healthcare and social assistance policies to identify child labour and other violations of rights; and
• ensuring the participation of children and adolescents in the policy decision-making process.

Among the main follow-up actions of the Conference was the consolidation of the Regional Initiative for Latin America and the Caribbean Free of Child Labour by 2020, which aims to accelerate the pace of elimination of child labour in the region.

Maria Velasco, Manager of the Ecuadorian Ministry of Labour’s Programme on the Eradication of Child Labour, presented the public-private initiative of an employers’ network to eliminate child labour in Ecuador, whose main objective was to promote joint work between the government, the private sector and civil society in order to eliminate child labour in Ecuador by 2020. This involved a public-private partnership (PPP) whereby companies undertook to develop corporate policies based on zero tolerance of child labour, with the primary objective of transferring these policies to their value chain by implementing a corporate social responsibility model based on key project indicators related to the prevention and elimination of child labour. Launched in July 2012 by the Ministry of Labour with the sponsorship of UNICEF, support from the ILO, and the commitment of 28 private companies, the initiative has been recognized as a good practice in the region and has been transferred to Colombia and Costa Rica. A number of other countries would like to replicate the initiative, including Paraguay, Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia and Jamaica.

Further information on the Solution Forum is available online.

Additional information, including presentations from the participants, is available here.

For information on the ILO’s work on South-South and triangular cooperation, click here.

Read the ILO Concept note on Promoting South-South Cooperation in the Post-2015 Development Agenda here.

Information on EXPO 2014 is available here.

The UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) is an inter-agency programme of the United Nations mandated to develop constructive relations between the UN and civil society organizations.


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