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The United Nations through the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) conducted the Eighth Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development, guided by the theme “Sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in Asia and the Pacific” through online platforms from 23 to 26 March 2021.

The forum aimed to discuss regional perspectives on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, accelerating transformations, and supporting a sustainable and resilient recovery from COVID-19.

Atty. Ma. Karina Perida-Trayvilla, Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns’ (BWSC) Director, participated as panelist for the roundtable on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8 on Decent Work and Economic Growth.

During this session, she shared her views on the possibility of reaching the obligations under SDG 8 given the new challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. She also discussed the actions being undertaken by the Philippines towards the achievement of Target 8.7 which includes elimination of child labor, and how the country is stepping up its efforts this 2021 which has been declared as International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour.

As rapporteur for the roundtable on SDG 8, Atty. Trayvilla reported that the discussion acknowledged the setback that a lot of countries are experiencing from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and that those who have been most affected by the crisis are those who were already among societies’ most vulnerable – women, youth, informal workers and migrant workers.

“The crisis has thus made it even more urgent for governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations and civil society organizations to work together on the design and implementation of durable solutions to promote job-rich sustainable economic growth in a manner that benefits all segments of the population,” she added.

From the policy recommendations that surfaced from the discussion to advance Goal 8, emphasis was placed on the importance of integrated planning to promote the principals of the goal, as well as the need to extend the reach of labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments to vulnerable groups,

It was also recommended to renew commitments to protect all workers from the current and future pandemics and other emerging occupational safety and health hazards.

“Other policy recommendations include the necessity to step up investments in human capital to better facilitate labor market transitions, to scale up investment in decent work, including for informal workers, and to pay particular attention – including through enhanced public investment – to the recognition of unpaid care work, the advancement of equal pay and the removal of all barriers to female labor force participation,” she said.

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