News & Events


The UN Sustainable Development Agenda and Labour Rights

Issued on November 14, 2016 at 04:08 PM

UN Goal 8 - Agenda 2030
Agenda 2030

“The UN Sustainable Development Agenda and Global Labour Rights” - a conference jointly organised by Trinity College and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions

Pics from the day available on our Flickr

The conference was opended by Jack O’Connor, Chair of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions’ European and International Forum, who spoke about the many challenges facing us to ensure that the goals are implemented, not least Goal 8.

In September 2015 the United Nations adopted the new Agenda for Sustainable Development, and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), setting out a global agenda on poverty, health, gender equality, education and environmental sustainability. For the first time the SDGs also include a systematic focus on global labour rights and ‘decent work’. Goal Eight commits countries to the “promotion of sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”. It remains unclear, however, what shape the implementation of Goal Eight will take and, in particular, how any improvements in workers’ rights may be measured. Fostering economic growth whilst safeguarding and improving labour rights continues to be a contentious policy challenge. It also poses important questions for NGOs and trade unions in Ireland and beyond. The conference brought together trade unionists, academics and policy makers to discuss the implications of the UN’s sustainable development agenda for global labour rights. The conference formed part of an ongoing research project between the Department of Sociology at Trinity College Dublin and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions funded under the Irish Research Council’s New Foundation scheme.

Speakers included:


David Donoghue, Irish Ambassador to the United Nations in New York gave an introduction via video - see above;

Jack O'Connor, Chair of the Congress European and International Forum, then opened proceedings pointing out the many challenges facing implementation of the goals.

Bob Kyloh, International Labour Organisation, spoke about the need for a detailed plan of action in terms of implementation and for countries to match their rhetoric with real action. He spoke about the example of Indonesia - here;

Catelene Passchier, Workers Spokesperson at ILO discussion on Decent Work in Global Supply Chains;

Aidan Madden, ARUP – Standards in the Bangladesh Fire and Safety Accord; You can learn more about the Accord here

Bernadette Phelan, Membership Services Manager, Business in the Community Ireland

David Cichon, TCD - here

Trinity College Dublin and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions would like to thank the Irish Research Council for the funding of this project. The SDG8 Labour Project was funded under the IRC New Foundations scheme.

Useful links:

Trade Union statement on outcome document of 2nd High Level Meeting (HLM2) of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC), Nairobi, Kenya, 28 November-1 December 2016

Goal 8 Targets