SDG8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

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The ever-growing population of the earth demands a sustainable system. While we have rapidly advanced as species, our advancement has not been one without repercussions. Our finite energy resources are depleting, while impending dangers due to pollution have transformed a distant concern to an immediate threat. Globally the unemployment rate has hit a staggering 6.9%[1], which roughly translates to 172 million people unemployed. These numbers are expected to increase exponentially over the next decade. Civil unrest in various regions across the globe has crippled the economy: women and youth continue to struggle in job markets, while child labor still presents itself as a social challenge. Thus, it is imperative for us to take action and work towards a sustainable development goal, where Pakistan aims to reach by 2030. The United Nations has set forth 17 goals to achieve sustainable development. This article will highlight the 8th goal and will talk in-depth to its structure, importance, and implementation.


SDG8 goals and statistics


Global financial progress to ensure decent work and economic growth warrants the development of specific targets. These twelve targets set by the UN have taken lead in pursuit of a happier and greener tomorrow. The targets aim to achieve greater economic productivity by mining the innovative technological power and by diversifying systems. At the very least the target is to sustain per capita economic growth. The least developed countries are expected to produce 7% GDP growth per annum[2], if the targets are met with success. Informal employment policies are encouraged to promote entrepreneurship, creativity, and innovation which will increase employment and develop small and medium-sized enterprises resulting in a drastic contribution to economic growth. As we have witnessed in the past that economic growth did come, but it came at a heavy environmental cost. It is now one of the targets of SDG 8 to reduce the detrimental impact economic growth has on the environment. Policies to improve the efficiency of consumption and production are presented. The UN encourages the developed nations to come forward and lead by example. To maintain order and promote prosperity SDG aims to remove gender gaps in pay scale and provide decent work for all genders, including those with a disability and even young individuals. Special attention must also be given to educational policies which will naturally play a huge role in reducing unemployment. If the efforts are met with success, by 2030, there will be a drastic decrease in youth who are not employed. The tourism industry holds immense economic potential; it is one of the objectives of SDG 8 to tap into that potential and promote sustainable tourism. This will not only increase employment but will boost the economy and also promote local businesses and products, allowing cultures to intermingle leading to an overall increase in cultural tolerance. The UN stresses the need to improve working conditions for labor especially women; policies to protect the labor are to be included in formal work contracts.


International bodies are working relentlessly to achieve the set targets. Technology has played a crucial role in propelling the economies and has increased the efficiency of business.

Digital Sprints: The United Nation development program is working to introduce new technologies and strategies in the digital world that are efficient and reliable. Six teams were assembled, each with a different project that used technology; collectively called digital sprints, to tackle the complex tasks and challenges. This enabled the UNDP to work more efficiently and solve complex problems at an organizational level, therefore. Test runs like this are required to encourage innovators and bring overall efficiency in the system to improve the economic crisis.

Team presenting their technology in Sprints

Yemen Emergency Crisis Response Project (YECRP): The recent conflicts in Yemen exacerbated the already depleting economic reserves creating almost an environment of civil war. Amidst such a crisis the UNDP partnered with the World Bank to address the growing crisis. They have allocated $400 million to Yemen Emergency Crisis Response Project (YECRP). The YECRP is working to provide relief and remove the socio-economic barriers for women in Yemen. More than 3700 women are involved in numerous projects all across the country striving to rebuild the infrastructure and economy of the country.

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Women participating in rebuilding infrastructure

UNDP waste management program: Women in Arab countries are often subjected to gender discrimination. There are limited opportunities for them to educate themselves and work. One of these SDG’s goals is to eliminate such discriminations from workplaces. To achieve this goal and help attain a greener environment for the future, UNDP has started waste management’s projects in various cities in the UAE, encouraging female citizens to work at a safe site providing employment and at the same time alleviating environmental pollution.

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Women participating in the UNDP waste management project

Global Environment Fund Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP): The UN’s GEF SGP is collaborating with the Ngare Ndare trust for researching alternate sources of energy in an attempt to prevent the massive deforestation that is taking place all around the globe. Work is currently underway for developing biogas. The aim is to diversify sources of income and to reduce reliance on livestock. Communities are also working independently to plant more trees.

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Marida Shinzai, member of Muliru Farmers’ cooperation taking an active part to protect rainforests in her country



Unemployment and the risk of joblessness in the landscape of Pakistan continue to increase. The unemployment rate rose to 3.6% in the most recent data recorded in January 2020 [3]. Today, half of the world’s population struggles to survive on a dollar per day, and in many countries securing a job does not entail a definite escape from poverty. Hence, our nation-states require us to reshape our economic agendas to eradicate poverty. The continuous lack of decent work opportunities has led to the deterioration of our social contract in a democratic country: everyone must contribute to progress.

SDG 8 unchains the government from relying solely on foreign aid to fuel the economy. Instead, it encourages the local government to make prominent advancements to increase rates in trade and jobs to safeguard individuals in the state. Currently, private sectors work hand-in-hand with governmental sectors and the international community to bring about developmental changes.

Last year, 50 public departments, 200 private businesses, and 500,000 individuals benefited from the UN’s efforts to boost trade in agricultural sectors, therefore securing livelihoods of the many fishermen and farmers in the country through providing training [4]. Accordance with global standards has allowed Pakistan to participate in international trade with the EU. Moreover, Pakistan is one of the three nations in South Asia that has officialized labor standards, whereas governments are introducing renewed labor policies to ensure the implementation of global standards by 2030.

In conclusion, Sustainable Development Goals aim to cater the environmental and the economical challenges in order to prompt peace and prosperity across the globe. Despite our best efforts, so far we have failed to eradicate poverty from the earth that is the premise of failed economic policies. Meanwhile, Pakistan has set forth agendas for 2030 to lessen unemployment, but the overflowing population ignites further employment tension for the government and laborers who are potentially at risk of losing meager income. Therefore, it is prudent for us to re-focus our attention on developing sustainable goals for continuous economic development.

Written by: Burha Kabir and Hanaa Gatta


[1] “Unemployment Rate Forecast by Country, around the World.”,

[2] “Goal 8 Targets.” UNDP,

[3] Kiani, Khaleeq. “Sustainable Development: How Far Has Pakistan Come and How Far Do We Have to Go?” DAWN.COM, 2 Oct. 2017,

[4] Christensen, Ingrid. “When Employment Sustains Growth.” DAWN.COM, 27 Sept. 2016,


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