Press Releases

    ECOSOC/6221
    13 July 2006

    Economic and Social Council Holds Discussion with UN Country Team from Indonesia on Role of United Nations in Creating Employment, Decent Work

    (Reissued as received.)

    GENEVA, 12 July (UN Information Service) -- The Economic and Social Council, this afternoon, held a panel discussion with the United Nations country team from Indonesia on the role of United Nations development cooperation in pursuit of employment creating and decent work: results; coherence; and system-wide support through the United Nations Development Assistance Framework.

    Léo Mérorès, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, introducing the panel discussion, said Indonesia had been invited to share with the Council its experience and insights on the role of United Nations development cooperation in employment creation and decent work.  Indonesia was a country that had faced a series of very major challenges in the last decades: the Asian financial crisis; an uncertain transition at the end of a three-decade strong-man rule; widely perceived corruption in public institutions; ethnic tensions and the separation of East Timor; terrorist attacks; and last year, the tsunami.

    Bambang Widianto, Deputy Minister of Planning, State Ministry of Planning/ National Development Planning Agency, Indonesia, said generating full and productive employment and decent work for all were the themes of developing countries, including Indonesia, which was still struggling with how to solve the problem of high unemployment and increasing poverty.  The ability to adapt to a different country situation was very important for increasing the effectiveness of aid.  It was very important to understand country conditions before giving advice on reducing unemployment and poverty, and the partner country's sustainable capacity to implement programmes that would work should be strengthened.

    Bo Asplund, United Nations System Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, said both natural disasters and conflict could result in sudden displacement, interruption of employment opportunities, loss of income and destruction of productive assets.  Following the tsunami, immediate priorities were creating labour opportunities for displaced persons particularly, and other affected populations, to generate income through cash-for-work, most focusing on restoration of public facilities.  The UNDP project provided temporary employment to 50,000 people.

    Peter Rademaker, ILO Deputy Director, Indonesia Office, said Indonesia currently faced a situation of jobless growth, with unemployment at 10 to 11 per cent, and underemployment at 30 per cent, which was a bigger challenge.  To make economic growth more sustainable, the United Nations was supporting the Government on issues of vocational training and making sure that occupational safety standards in industry were being applied. 

    Masa Yoshi Matsuhita, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Representative in Indonesia, said with UNIDO employment creation, sustainable industrial development focused on the private sector and small and medium enterprises, energy efficiency and environmental sustainable industrial development; and recovery and rehabilitation of communities from the natural disaster affected areas and post-conflict areas. 

    Gwi-Yeop Son, Country Director of the United Nations Development Programme in Indonesia, said on the importance of economic development in the context of peace-building, unemployment, particularly of youth, was a key factor contributing to violence.  All planning and programme designs should foster social cohesion and integration through inter-group dialogue and productive employment, in particular, integrating displaced persons.

    In the context of the interactive debate, delegations raised issues and made comments such as whether agriculture could not lead to a necessary boost to employment in Indonesia; the need for growth to have an impact on employment as this could have a negative effect on peace and stability; how big the country team for Indonesia was and how it was spread out; and what activities aimed to promote entrepreneurship in a more general way or whether this was a by-product of other activities, among other things.

    Speaking in the course of the debate were the representatives of Guinea, the United States, France, Finland on behalf of the European Union, and the Russian Federation.

    Also this afternoon, the Indian delegation expressed appreciation for the condolences, concern and outrage expressed by friends and Member States on the series of blasts that took place yesterday in Mumbai and in Jammu and Kashmir.  Terrorism, in all its forms, was an international scourge that everyone should collectively fight together.  The international community should join its hands in combating the forces of terrorism.

    When the Council meets at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 13 July, it will discuss follow-up to policy recommendations of the General Assembly and the Council before concluding its operational activities segment.

    Statements

    LEO MERORES, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, said the operational activities segment, which drew its main lines of discussion from the themes and decisions made at the triennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities, mostly revolved around issues concerning the effectiveness of the United Nations development system at the country level.  It was often thought of as being several steps from the level of global discussion.  The challenge had been how to link the two levels of discussions so that the role of the United Nations development system in the context of global issues was brought to the fore in a country setting.  The other challenge was to situate the ongoing operational reforms in making the United Nations development system more relevant and more effective in addressing global issues in the country-specific context.

    In today's panel discussion, Indonesia was invited to share with the Council its experience and insights on the role of United Nations development cooperation in employment creation and decent work: results; coherence; and system-wide support through the United Nations development assistance framework.  Indonesia was a country that had faced a series of very major challenges in the last decades: the Asian financial crisis; an uncertain transition at the end of a three-decade strong-man rule; widely perceived corruption in public institutions; ethnic tensions and the separation of East Timor; terrorist attacks; and last year, the tsunami.

    BAMBANG WIDIANTO, Deputy Minister of Planning, State Ministry of Planning/ National Development Planning Agency, Indonesia, said generating full and productive employment and decent work for all were the themes of developing countries, including Indonesia, which was still struggling with how to solve the problem of high unemployment and increasing poverty.  The ability to adapt to a different country situation was very important for increasing the effectiveness of aid.  It was very important to understand country conditions before giving advice on reducing unemployment and poverty.  The partner country's sustainable capacity to implement programmes that would work should be strengthened.  Duplication of efforts should be avoided and rationalization of activities should be implemented in order to enhance aid.  Efforts had been made before the crisis to reduce the number of persons living under the poverty line, which was under $1 a day. 

    The issue of vulnerability was very big in Indonesia with regards to poverty.  With regards to education, although the Government had done a good job by increasing the participation in enrolment, between poor and rich there was a significant gap.  Poverty was a multidimensional aspect, impacting on access to safe water and to sanitation, among other things.  Indonesia incorporated the Millennium Development Goals in the national development plan, and its goals were actually more ambitious than those of the Millennium Development Goals, although a lot of indicators needed to be produced to match them.  Similar to other developing countries, Indonesia was not sure of what the cost would be to achieve the Goals.  Export could create more employment, and should, therefore, be encouraged, and there were SME programmes to this end.  Another focus was increasing the ability of the poor to access basic needs, including health, food, education and basic infrastructure.  A third focus was poverty itself, and community-based development would have a large role here.  The biggest problems were improving the business climate, enhancing human resource quality, facilitating labour migration and improving labour market regulations. 

    BO ASPLUND, United Nations System Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, said both natural disasters and conflict could result in sudden displacement, interruption of employment opportunities, loss of income and destruction of productive assets.  Funding of peace and development analysis which UNDP conducted in three provinces -- Maluku, North Maluku and Central Saluwesi -- showed that there was a close correlation between conflict violence and the high rate of unemployment, particularly of youth and displaced persons.  UNDP now provided support to longer-term peacebuilding in three provinces.  The "Peace through Development" programme focused on local economic development initiatives that had the potential to promote reconciliation and longer-term peace; support intercommunity trading networks; revitalize the local market place; support local producer associations; and support local microfinance institutions.

    Following the tsunami, immediate priorities were creating labour opportunities for displaced persons particularly, and other affected populations, to generate income though cash-for-work, most focusing on restoration of public facilities.  Income was important for that vulnerable population, but more importantly recovering from their trauma.  UNDP project provided temporary employment to 50,000 people.

    PETER RADEMAKER, ILO Deputy Director, Indonesia Office, said Indonesia currently faced a situation of jobless growth, with unemployment at 10 to 11 per cent, and underemployment at 30 per cent, which was a bigger challenge.  To make economic growth more sustainable, the United Nations was supporting the Government on issues of vocational training and making sure that occupational safety standards in industry were being applied.  There was also a need to improve labour market governance for decent work, with a balance between flexibility and security, a need to eliminate child labour and promote decent work for youth, and to manage labour migration and its concomitant remittances and skills.

    The Government had put together a national action plan to fight child labour, and had made significant progress over the last 10 years.  Indonesia was the lead country for the United Nations/ILO/World Bank Youth Employment Network, and tried to provide support to young people of an age to begin work, and this included major initiatives on improving the vocational training system, providing youth with entrepreneurship training and business development, and facilitating the school-to-work transition.

    MASAYOSHI MATSUHITA, Representative of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in Indonesia, said with UNIDO employment creation, sustainable industrial development focused on the private sector and small and medium-enterprises, energy efficiency and environmental sustainable industrial development; as well as recovery and rehabilitation of communities from the natural-disaster-affected areas and post-conflict areas.  The Eastern Indonesian development programme comprised of global value chain analysis; selection of agro-based clusters; industrial framework formulation; product development and market expansion; and business partnership and network promotion for small and medium enterprises.  With regard to operational programmes, industrial skill development programmes for small communities in Aceh included common services facility and hands-on training for carpentry, furniture-making, sewing and embroidery.  Microhydropower generation plant and community development included clean technology for power generation and employment generation based on the generated electric power.  Community development programmes could educate children and young people through installation of communication equipment.

    In close cooperation with the Ministry of Industry, UNIDO had formulated a country programme in the period of 2005 to 2007.  That programme indicated the UNIDO role to assist Indonesia sustainable industrial development.  As indicated, there was a critical disparity of development between urban and rural areas in the country.  Since the large-scale industrial activities were concentrated in the urban regions, Eastern Indonesia economic activities were limited and thus, there was a lack of employment opportunities. 

    GWI-YEOP SON, Country Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Indonesia, said on the importance of economic development in the context of peace-building, unemployment, particularly of youth, was a key factor contributing to violence.  All planning and programme designs should foster social cohesion and integration through inter-group dialogue and productive employment, in particular integrating displaced persons.  Local economic initiatives had the potentiality to promote longer-term peace and reconciliation.  UNDP had learnt that productive employment and decent work could contribute to conflict prevention and peacebuilding. 

    With regards to the restoration of livelihoods subsequent to disaster, the creation of immediate job opportunities was an immense step forwards.  There should also be support for small and medium-sized enterprises, and a facilitation of coordination and promotion of harmonisation from the very earliest moments of disaster-response, and a smooth transition from temporary employment to longer-term sustainable employment.  In order for productive employment to be encouraged in a sustainable manner and to be conducive to economic growth, there was a need to promote good governance and support employment policy, to support capacity development of the Government, particularly at the local level, and to promote public-private sector partnerships. 

    Interactive Dialogue

    In the context of the interactive debate, delegations raised issues and made comments such as whether agriculture could not lead to a necessary boost to employment; the need for growth to have an impact on employment as this could have a negative effect on peace and stability; how big the country team for Indonesia was and how it was spread out; a request for further information on a joint programme involving three agencies which had been mentioned by one panellist and the value-added of each agency in the process; the development of social cohesion and integration and how this would be handled were the Government in power not a democratic Government and did not represent the will of the people; what activities aimed to promote entrepreneurship in a more general way or whether this was a by-product of other activities; the environmental pillar of the United Nations as integrated into the country-specific approach; the need for United Nations agencies to be driven by a common vision at the country level; employment as a key objective rather than as an outcome of growth policies; and the need for greater coherence between sectoral and macro-economic policies.

    Speaking in the course of the debate were the representatives of Guinea; United States; France; Finland, on behalf of the European Union; and the Russian Federation.

    BAMBANG WIDIAMTO, Deputy Minister of Planning, State Ministry of Planning/National Development Planning Agency, Indonesia, said in a developing country like Indonesia, 70 per cent of the population was engaged in the informal sector.  Although economic growth was important, it was not yet sufficient.  The environment for investment had to be improved.  The productivity of the formal sector was more than the informal sector.  Indonesia believed that the certification programme might increase the productivity of the informal sector by making it become formal.  The number of women involved in employment had been on the increase.  In general, more efforts had been made in employment creation.  With the informal sector being 70 per cent, it might be hard to provide decent work to everybody.  For specific sectors of employment, progress could be achieved thorough the implementation of specific measures.

    BO ASPLUND, United Nations System Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, said in response to some of the questions, whatever the official development assistance was that went to Indonesia, it was still a drop in the bucket when compared to what the Government was spending on development.  For the United Nations system, which was consulting closely with the Government, this related closely to the issue of picking and choosing sectors to deal with.  The Government gave signals regarding areas where it thought the United Nations had a comparative advantage in aiding the Government's efforts.  It was very much a give-and-take situation.  The sharing of South-South experience was a good idea.  There was a lot of best practice experience in the country team, which could be very useful. 

    With regards to agriculture and the absence of the Food and Agricultural Organization on the panel, 40 per cent of the labour force was involved in agriculture.  When it came to employment creation, agriculture tended to contribute less.  There would possibly be movement of labour outside of the agriculture sector in the future, and the agencies present were working to ensure that there would be employment possibilities for those moving out of agriculture.  Work was not concentrated on Aceh, although there was a large amount of coordination work to be carried out there.  The country team was fairly large, and was considerably dispersed.  On joint programmes and their added-value, generally, it was felt that if agencies did a multisectoral thing without bringing in partners, then they would often find themselves duplicating work.  Democracy had been consolidating extremely fast in Indonesia, and the United Nations had had a particularly trusted role in the Government.  Were the situation different, then the United Nations would have a different approach.

    GWI-YEOP SON, Country Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Indonesia, responding to the question on the linkage between disaster and conflict, said that the link was present in many countries.  The 10,000 Indonesian coffee growers, who had been ex-combatants, had negotiated with the Government so that peacebuilding initiatives were sustained.  Those coffee growers were situated in Aceh and had received financial support to start up their projects.  UNDP had also injected financial assistance to support the other regions that had been affected by the tsunami.  In Indonesia, each conflict was different and UNDP was providing peacebuilding measures, taking into consideration their specificities.  In Aceh, a high amount of financial resources had been injected by a number of international organizations, which had attracted people from other regions to flow to the region.  The United Nations system was promoting entrepreneurship in Aceh.  The creation of sustained livelihood had been a challenge in Aceh, as it was in other regions.

    MASAYOSHI MATSUHITA, Representative of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in Indonesia, said on joint activities among United Nations agencies, this was a more effective manner of covering issues.  The experience from Aceh and the earthquake had consolidated the United Nations team members, and there was a strong urge to work together among them with one big target in mind.  The team was constantly preparing for conflict situations.  UNIDO and other agencies were trying to create jobs.  Unemployment was not the reason for the conflict, but because people were poor they found it easier to fight with others.  Disparities had been causing uncertainties for people living in rural areas.  UNIDO had very little capacity, and was trying to focus on various issues for which it required the ILO knowledge and good governance from UNDP, and was, therefore, working together with them.  Donors were happy to see collaboration work in joint activities.

    There were many factors and conditions, but the strong country team and consolidated teamwork was the main reason for success.  Country team decision-making was very strong, and influenced each agency's programmes. 

    PETER RADEMAKER, ILO Deputy Director, Indonesia Office, said the agricultural sector was the main employer and helped many people make a living.  The fishing sector had been provided with assistance, following the damage caused by the tsunami.  There were still problems in the agricultural sector.  The wage system in Aceh did not exist even before the tsunami.  At present, the situation had changed and employment had skyrocketed, attracting work force from other areas.  ILO was helping the vulnerable segment of the population.  The lack of employment could be the source of all problems.  The Indonesia Constitution, even before the initiative of the ILO, had guaranteed the right to decent work, and its development programme was based on that constitutional provision.

    LEO MERORES, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, said that the exchange of views had been very fruitful, and was fully complementary with the various issues that were under discussion, and the whole issue related to development had been better placed, and the Council had thus been able to review all the themes that had been discussed up to now.

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