Sustainable Development Goal 8 – Decent work and economic growth

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Promote a sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, with decent work for all, is the eighth goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

The impacts caused by the coronavirus pandemic go far beyond health. With the change in consumption habits, the crisis in international trade and the unemployment levels rising more and more, the effects of the disease caused a historic recession that already affects the economy of the world. Organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) point out that we are experiencing today one of the worst moments since the Great Depression of 1929, with predictions pointing out a -3% drop in the world growth for this year.

Knowing that many people may be even more vulnerable to the loss of income and essential services, the UN released in April this year a document that guides countries to adopt social and economic recovery policies. The roadmap indicates some essential measures to guarantee basic rights and adequate assistance to the population, including encouraging the creation of social projects, creating benefits for small and medium-sized companies, increasing fiscal incentives and investing in resilience systems led by the population itself, among others.

The criteria are largely based on another document released by the UN: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Listed as its eighth objective, the SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth has the mission of “promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”. In times of pandemic, where a change in the economy can drive progress, create new and better jobs and transform the quality of life, such a premise has never been more important.

Bright Cities recognizes the power of the economy over urban development and therefore performs a diagnosis of a city from ten urban areas, including entrepreneurship. It is not a coincidence that the category has great weight in the platform’s analysis: it is through it that a strong urban ecosystem can be developed to promote quality work. It is also its role to generate innovative solutions, which include new business models, more efficient public services and projects that promote a better quality of life.

In other words, an entrepreneurial city is one that creates job opportunities that reduce gender inequality, as mentioned in SDG 5, or even that reduce the income gap, as pointed out by SDG 1. It is also one that manages to promote favorable environments for the creation of new technologies to face global challenges, as the SDG 7 says.

In order to carry out these diagnoses and find out if a city, after all, uses all its economic potential, our platform uses 160 global indicators capable of measuring and mapping the performance of any city – and many of them are directly related to SDG 8. Examples are:

  • Indicator “Rate of new entrepreneurs”: manages to identify the emergence of new initiatives and employment opportunities, according to goal 8.3 of SDG 8: “Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services“;
  • Indicators “Number of incubators” and “Number of new patents”: evaluates whether a city promotes innovative scientific and technological initiatives or solutions, according to goal 8.1 of SDG 8: “Sustain per capita economic growth in accordance with national circumstances and, in particular, at least 7 per cent gross domestic product growth per annum in the least developed countries” and goal 8.2: “Achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labour-intensive sectors“;

From the results obtained by these indicators, Bright Cities platform carries out a complete diagnostics to evaluate which aspects need to receive greater attention in a given city. Understanding the urgency, the scale and the budget that public managers have in hand, smart solutions are then suggested, capable of circumventing these problems and, thus, improving public services and the population’s quality of life.

In the smart solutions’ database of Bright Cities there are more than 100 technological solutions and good incentive practices in the area of ​​entrepreneurship. One of them is Canarias Excelência Tecnológica, an association of ICT companies dedicated to the promotion and dissemination of Information and Communication Technologies as a key factor for economic and social progress in the Canary Islands. Its scope of action extends to the whole territory of the Autonomous Community, being born as a sectoral traction mechanism regional, but with a clear external orientation.

Another example is Enterprise Estonia (EAS), one of Estonia’s largest institutions to support entrepreneurship, providing financial assistance, advice, cooperation and training opportunities for entrepreneurs, research institutions, citizens and non-profit sectors. To this end, the institute supports the development of companies that have export capacity and generate greater added value, in order to help the country become one of the most competitive places in the world.

Smart solutions like these are essential to encourage better, more dignified, accessible and equal work opportunities. According to the UN, not only has the global economy been growing at a slower pace in recent years, but unemployment itself is rising: in 2007, the number was 170 million, rising to 202 million in 2012 – the majority, approximately 75 millions, young women or men. To offer decent work opportunities to the entire world population, 470 million new jobs would be needed.

In 2019, in the more recent study released by the UN, the organization mentioned the need for more a significant increase in employment opportunities, especially among young people, and a reduction in disparities between men and women. According to the information released:

  • In 2017, the global GDP growth rate per capita was 1.9%, and forecasts said it would remain at 2% in 2020;
  • Men earn 12.5% ​​more than women in 40 of the 45 countries analyzed;
  • Many workers in the world are exposed to undue risks in their workplaces: there are an average of 3 deaths per 100,000 employees;
  • In 2018, a fifth of the world’s young people did not have access to education, employment or training.
Source: UN

With the coronavirus, however, the numbers will be different from now on: predictions from the World Labor Organization – WLO, say that with the escalation of unemployment by the pandemic, almost half of the global workforce is at risk of losing their jobs. In numbers, this means 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy – that is, half the global workforce – at risk of having their livelihoods destroyed. The reduction of working hours and the bankruptcy of companies were also given as certainties, as the most recent edition of the ILO Monitor on COVID-19 explains.

In Brazil, the numbers are equally alarming. Researches made by economists at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation estimate that, by the end of the year, the country may reach 17.8% of its unemployed workers – the highest rate since the beginning of the historical series, in 1981. The national GDP also will suffer reductions, down 3.5%. The numbers point to a sequence of bad results that has been coming out since the beginning of the year: according to the IBGE, Brazil ended the first quarter of 2020 with 1.2 million more people in the unemployment line, totaling 12.9 million of people without guaranteed income.

Expert in smart cities, Bright Cities has been committed to helping managers, entrepreneurs and institutions to recognize their share of responsibility and to take concrete actions towards the goals of the SDGs. Our platform has a database powered by dozens of indicators and more than 1000 smart solutions for smart cities, some of them specially developed to boost the economy of cities. To find out about them, access our solution database and click on “Entrepreneurship” in the search filter.

We also launched an innovative tool to support Brazilian cities to contribute to the strategic planning for coping with the Coronavirus crisis: our Dashboard Bright Cities COVID-19 brings together a series of public sources on a single platform. Among the available indicators are the accounting of new cases, the number of deaths, the availability of ICU beds and the number of respirators, all organized by state or Health Region.

We believe that creating public policies based on the collection and analysis of data is the most efficient and safest way to contribute to the economy and, thus, to the quality of life of a city – especially at times like today!

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