Asia and the Pacific’s success in achieving the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development depends on a healthy, protected and productive workforce. People of working age make up two thirds of the region’s population and more than half of the global labour force. We depend on them to power the economic growth, competitiveness and sustainable development needed to accelerate the region’s progress towards all 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Our workforce generates the tax revenues needed to pay for essential public goods and services and ensures the well-being of dependent family members. Yet the working-age population of Asia and the Pacific is under pressure, denied the decent work opportunities it needs to fulfil its potential.
Decent work entails equality of opportunity and treatment at work, dignity and safety in the workplace, a fair income and the freedom for workers to organize and participate in decisions related to their work and lives. It provides workers with access to social protection and health care, thereby ensuring that negative coping strategies, such as reducing food intake and selling productive assets, are avoided in the event of job loss or sickness. Decent work is necessary to ensure an adequate standard of living, reduce poverty and inequality, protect people from life cycle contingencies and promote inclusive growth. It is through well-functioning labour markets that the benefits of economic growth can spread to the whole population.