SDG 8 seeks to strengthen inclusive economic growth and promote decent, productive work for all. Even with current levels of growth, it is estimated that the number of unemployed globally will rise due to expanding labor forces. Progress towards SDG 8 requires both the creation of new jobs and steps to make work conditions fair and decent. To accomplish these goals and encourage growth, the provision of basic energy, tech, transportation, and education services is crucial. SDG 8 is further refined by targets that can be more readily translated into actions. These targets highlight the interconnected nature of the goals. For example, strategies to support Decent Work and Economic Growth also promote SDG 1 (No Poverty), and SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure). Below are a series of synergies that can come from providing access to products, services and systems that address Decent Work and Economic Growth.

Invest in Access to Fair Treatment and Equal Opportunity

Fair treatment and equal opportunity are dependent on decent work and economic growth. Social protection systems provide safeguards to extreme poverty and unfair treatment, but 55% of the global population lacks at least one of these protections.1 Currently, there are approximately 152 million children globally aged 5-11 participating in the labor force, a situation detrimental to their futures and well-being.2 Unfair workplace treatment is also reflected in the gender pay gap. Currently, the difference in earnings between men and women sits at 23% and may take decades to close without renewed action. In addition, there are significant gender differences in access to job opportunities as 94% of men ages 25 to 54 are in the labor force compared to 63% for women of the same age.3 Efforts toward decent work and inclusive economic growth must address these issues of differential work treatment and opportunities.4

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Invest in Access to Financial Services

Currently, there are two billion people who lack access to financial services, leaving them unbanked.5 Financial services allow individuals to take ownership of incomes, savings, assets, and investments. Services to be provided include automated teller machines, point of sale terminals, branches of payment services, and agents of payment services.6 Participation in the use of financial services allows individuals and firms to gain financial stability, insure against risks, and invest in education.7 In these ways and more, access to financial services underpins job creation and overall increases in economic productivity.8

Invest in Access to Telecommunication Services

Telecommunications are closely connected to the provision of access to decent work and economic productivity. Individuals typically benefit from the establishment of the internet through e-mail, social networks, and search engines.9 When businesses are able to harness digital technology, they gain access to more markets, experience increased efficiency, and can develop innovative links with customers.10 For example, the internet is being used by entrepreneurs for online payment platforms which significantly streamline transactions.11

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Invest in Access to Education

Investing in education and job training enables individuals to develop the skills and knowledge crucial to succeed in the workforce and increase earnings.12 Additional education leads to easier entry into the job market, and to more stable employment opportunities that require skills such as basic literacy or computer use. The relationship between education and decent work is even stronger if the skills that are taught are relevant to the types of employment available in the local context.13 Beyond these individual benefits, a workforce with knowledge and skills gained through education and training is more productive and is capable of introducing innovative processes or ideas into a business.14

Invest in Access to Affordable, Sustainable and Modern Energy

Reliable and modern energy goes hand in hand with economic stability and growth.15 Energy enables businesses and industry to increase productivity and can bring access to fundamental internet and telecommunications connections.16 Accordingly, the presence of modern energy is essential in generating additional employment opportunities as economic activity accelerates. To complement the environmental goals embodied by the SDGs, however, the energy sources used to enable economic growth and opportunity must also be sustainable and climate-conscious.

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Invest in Access to Clean Air

Fostering opportunities for decent work is difficult if workplace conditions are unhealthy. Many types of work environments can have poor and unhealthy air quality, including construction sites and office buildings with poor ventilation.17 If workers are exposed to pollutants such as radon, dust, or mold, they can develop respiratory issues like asthma, chronic lung diseases, and cancer.18 Clean air has also been linked to broader economic benefits due to more productive workforces and healthier populations, resulting in avoided medical expenses.19 Improving access to clean air within the workplace and without can thus establish the conditions necessary for decent work and economic growth.

Invest in Access to Safe, Affordable and Sustainable Transportation

Economic growth depends on efficient, reliable and interconnected transportation networks. Seaports, rivers, railways, roads and airways and informational technologies all serve to establish trade routes and link businesses with their consumers. The resulting efficiencies in conducting transactions and accessing materials enables the growth of existing businesses and facilitates the establishment of new enterprises. Transportation is also important for individuals to obtain decent work: With greater mobility options, workers are better able to reach job centers that are not always close by.20

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SDG 8: References

1 https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/poverty/
2 Ibid
3 https://www.eapn.eu/what-is-poverty/causes-of-poverty-and-inequality/
4 https://www.sharing.org/why-nations-need-to-share/global-poverty-inequality
5 https://www.odi.org/publications/3480-equity-development-why-it-important-and-how-achieve-it
6 https://blogs.worldbank.org/voices/five-challenges-prevent-financial-access-people-developing-countries
7 https://www.activesustainability.com/sustainable-development/financial-inclusion-key-to-reducing-poverty/
8 https://medium.com/@IFC_org/why-digital-banking-services-are-vital-to-reduce-poverty-in-the-developing-world-35ac35758f04
9 https://www.healthpovertyaction.org/news-events/key-facts-poverty-and-poor-health/
10 https://nyaspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1196/annals.1425.011
11 https://www.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/technology-media-and-telecommunications/articles/value-of-connectivity.html
12 https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/verizon-innovative-learning-tech-program/
13 https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/West_Internet-Access.pdf
14 https://gemreportunesco.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/we-will-never-eradicate-poverty-without-quality-education-for-all/
15 https://borgenproject.org/poverty-education-statistics/
16 https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/10-barriers-to-education-around-the-world-2/
17 https://www.childfund.org/poverty-and-education/
18 http://blogs.worldbank.org/water/water-key-poverty-reduction-and-health
19 https://lifewater.org/blog/water-poverty
20 http://siwi.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/waterandmacroecon.pdf
21 https://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/news-and-events/final-evaluation-acp-eu-water-facility_en
22 https://www.urban.org/urban-wire/reduce-poverty-improving-housing-stability
23 https://www.sheltertheworld.org/poor-people-living-in-poverty-extreme-housing-conditions/