United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Major Group: Workers & Trade

Workers and Trade Unions
Session : Enhancing the contributions of the private sector
Sustainable development is not only ?sustained economic growth?, but aims to meet the basic
needs of all people within the carrying capacity of the planet. We remind delegates that the
CSD review must mainly focus on Agenda 21 and JPOI targets with the comprehensive input
necessary for a successful outcome. There has emerged in CSD 14 and many other
international fora overwhelming emphases on market -based and technologically -driven
solutions as the only way to implement sustainable development.
Genuine sustainable development involves policies that promote self-reliance and local
economies; that remove perverse subsidies; that implement participatory decision-making,
implementation and follow-up; that internalize external costs; and that establish
decentralized services (renewable energy production; access to water; ?). Review of
national and international experiences should integrate these elements.
The private sector and markets are very important in SD, but they are not alone.
We need to encourage infant industry, local production and consumption, which can be
threatened by trade deals and aid programmes that favour MNCs. We need to support local
solutions to energy issues.
We need to recognise that much technology transfer actually comes from government
Corporate social and environmental obligations are vital and we suggest that voluntary
measures are not enough. Corporate accountability as expressed in JPOI needs to be
revisited in CSD 14 and strengthened in CSD 15.
As for social obligations of all employers to their workers, these should be negotiated, as M.
Saincy stated, within the context of ILO Core Labour Standards. As Austria indicated, decent
jobs are fundamental to poverty reduction
Obligations of companies to public policies and regulations must also be more transparent
and accountable, as we see too many violations and too much lobbying to weaken these.
One must be careful of making government too business friendly? There is much evidence
of state capture that questions the capacity of regulators to do their jobs.
Obviously, the corruption of public servants and politicians must be eradicated, and
companies must be barred from public tendering if convicted. The IFIs and donors must
enforce such measures.
We continue to question the ability of the private sector and market dynamics to provide the
essential public infrastructure on which our societies depend.
Private sector is an important supplier to the public sector, but it can?t replace the
fundamental role of government in providing quality public services to all citizens, upon
which sustainable development rests.
Chair, we congratulate the UN SG and UNEP on the Principles for Responsible Investment.
Kofi Annan said that ?while finance fuels the global economy, investment decision-making
does not sufficiently reflect environmental, social and corporate governance
Chair, workers and their trade unions are important pariticipants in this initiative, through
our pension and retirement funds which account for 35% of total global investment.
Workers and their unions are committed to working with employers, with governments and
with major groups, but we need an environment of trust, not intimidation. Then we will able
to deal with many of the issues that we see raised here by various delegations.
Thank you