Work, growth, innovation and equality

Penny Walker looks at corporate action on building a more sustainable, equitable and decent economy in part six of our series on the UN 2030 goals

For too many, work is underpaid, insecure and dangerous. The International Labour Organization estimates that 327 million people with jobs live in extreme poverty. To help to address this, the UN sustainable development goal (eight) for decent work and economic growth aims to expand the global economy and improve productivity. Targets include full, productive employment for all, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, abilities, sexual or gender identity. These issues are also relevant to goal ten – reducing inequality within and among countries (below). Child labour, forced labour, trafficking and modern slavery are also given special attention, as are the rights of migrant workers.

A strategy being adopted by US food business General Mills is to enable local suppliers in lower-income countries to find ways to add value to the products they make. The firm, whose brands include Cheerios, Häagen-Dazs and Yoplait, buys vanilla from hundreds of farming families in Madagascar. Since 2013, it has run a programme in the Sava region, training farmers in how to cure vanilla pods. These sell for significantly more than uncured ones. The initiative is helping General Mills work towards its target of sourcing 100% of its vanilla by 2020 in ways that improve the livelihoods of smallholder ...

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