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New Geneva platform to ‘anticipate societal changes’ 

A new international platform is to be launched in Geneva to anticipate the effects of societal changes amidst the Covid-19 crisis, Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga said on Wednesday. 

Switzerland is supporting this initiative and calls on states to help the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in the face of the current jobs crisis, she added. 

The new platform, Thinking ahead on Societal Changes (TASC), aims to bring together the expertise of governments, international organisations, the private sector, associations and civil society to anticipate changes in society, Sommaruga told an ILO online summit on Covid-19 and employment. 

Only the collaboration of the entire international community will make it possible “to face the consequences of the pandemic”, said Sommaruga, who holds the rotating Swiss presidency this year. For the labour market, the response to the crisis must take into account the ILO Centennial Declaration on the Future of Work approved last year. This declaration commits states to guarantee protection for all workers and to promote sustainable economic growth, full employment and decent jobs for all. 

Sommaruga noted that “Switzerland has not been spared” the effects of the pandemic crisis. She defended the social safety net and social dialogue that had helped respond to the economic situation. 

Online summit 

Other international leaders addressing the summit have included UN Secretary General António Guterres, who said it was not a choice between health and the economy. “They are interlinked: we will either win on all fronts or fail on all fronts,” he said. 

International Monetary Fund managing director Kristalina Georgieva told the summit that  policies should “lay the foundation for a low-carbon, resilient recovery that would create millions of jobs while helping address the climate crisis”, and expressed particular concern that the crisis will “jeopardise the important development gains of the last years”. 

World Trade Organization director-general Roberto Azevêdo stressed that keeping markets open to trade would play an important role in recovery. “In the short run, raising trade barriers would threaten access to food and medical supplies,” he told the summit.