By Daisy Francis, Senior Researcher and Policy Analyst for World Vision

Promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all.

In many parts of the world, having a job may not be enough to enable you to escape from poverty.  Slow and uneven progress has meant that global unemployment levels remain unacceptably high, with many experiencing what can be called “working poverty.” For young people, this is devastating, as the experience of unemployment or under-employment early in their working life can damage long-term job and life prospects.

The statistics are sobering:

  • Global unemployment increased from 170 million in 2007 to nearly 202 million in 2012, of which about 75 million are young women and men.
  • About 2.4 billion people live under the extreme and medium poverty lines or $1.90 USD and $3.10 USD per day, respectively.
  • In many parts of the world, women are often in undervalued and low-paid jobs, even as they shoulder responsibility for most of the world’s unpaid care work (children, parents, etc.). On average, they often earn 23 percent less than men. Working mothers are particularly hit hard in this regard.
  • The global share of youth not in employment, education, or training is now nearly one in five young people.

Clearly the creation of “decent work” is an urgent and major challenge for almost all economies.

So, what is “decent work?” Productive employment and “decent work” are key elements to achieving poverty reduction. Decent work means there are opportunities for everyone to find work that is productive and that delivers a fair income, security in the workplace, and social protection for families. It ensures that all women and men are given equal opportunities in employment.

Decent work puts money in the pockets of individuals and families and fuels the growth and development of sustainable enterprises. Fundamentally, decent work reduces inequality and increases resilience. It gives hope, dignity, and a sense of social justice, which contributes to building and maintaining social peace.

Child Labor

While the global number of children engaged in child labor has declined from 246 million to 168 million children since 2000, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO), this is still an unacceptably high number. Of this group, more than half of them are engaged in what the ILO defines as hazardous or the worst forms of child labor.

Child labor not only hurts children, but it also has detrimental effects on the global economy. As a recent study by World Vision and the Overseas Development Institute found, the cost of child labor to the global economy is between 2.4 and 6.6 percent of global Gross National Income. Child labor can depress wages, increase adult unemployment, and reduce the capacity of many countries to have an educated and skilled next generation that is equipped to enter a modern and demanding labor marketplace.

The international community has committed, under Goal 8, to protect children from economic exploitation and to foster inclusive growth by encouraging businesses to respect children’s rights in their operations.

An array of solutions is needed to create a “decent work,” child-labor free environment that will deliver inclusive and sustainable growth. Examples are:

  • A multi-faceted approach to ending child labor is needed, which ensures access to education for all children and social protections for families, including safeguards for family incomes.
  • Providing youth with the best opportunity to transition to a decent job calls for investments in quality education and training, to give them skills that match labor market demands, through programs such as apprenticeships and vocational training.
  • Strong labor market policies are needed, to promote safe and secure working environments and fair wages.
  • In addition to creating jobs, the conditions under which some 767 million women and men continue to work need to be addressed given that they still do not earn enough to lift themselves and their families out of extreme poverty.
  • Women must enjoy equal access to employment opportunities with men.

To fully achieve the above, it is necessary to realize many of the other Global Goals. For example, Goal 4 emphasizes quality education, Goal 6 focuses on gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, and Goal 9 calls for innovation and investments in labor-intense infrastructure development programs.


By Daisy Francis, Senior Researcher and Policy Analyst for World Vision

Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation.

Basic infrastructure like roads, information technologies, sanitation, electrical power, and water remains scarce in many developing countries.

  • More than 1 billion people do not have access to reliable phone services.
  • 4 billion people worldwide lack access to basic sanitation, and 663 million lack access to clean water.
  • In developing countries, barely 30 percent of agricultural production undergoes industrial processing.

To empower communities everywhere, investments in infrastructure are crucial as a means of achieving inclusive and sustainable development. Economic growth, social development, and climate action are heavily dependent on investments in infrastructure. In the face of a rapidly changing global economic landscape and increasing inequalities, sustained growth must make opportunities that are accessible to all people and are supported by innovation and resilient infrastructure.

Additionally, failing to improve infrastructure and promote technological innovation could translate into poor health care, inadequate sanitation, and limited access to education, making the goal of ending poverty that much more difficult.

World Vision’s USAID-funded Sak Rep project in Haiti sought to address the high levels of food insecurity and environmental degradation on La Gonaive Island and in Central Haiti. From 2008 to 2013, the project helped farmers meet daily food needs while also increasing their capacity to increase crop production and improve access to markets. Through Agridev – a local firm with which World Vision partnered – the Haitian farmer/producer groups were linked to export markets. Two years after the end of the project, the producer groups and the exporters were still collaborating to bring to U.S. markets Filiere mangoes. Because the fruit benefit from fair-trade certification, the exported mangoes secured nearly five times the local price, ensuring a sustainable income source for the farmers and their households.

In 2014, with a $3 million donation from the Helmsley Charitable Trust, World Vision launched a three-year project aimed at protecting communities in Libo, Kemkem, and Chilga districts of Ethiopia from the impact of floods. The annual floods, which occur from July through November, affect nearly 40,000 people, leaving them without access to clean water, destroying agriculture production, exacerbating pre-existing poverty, and deepening health issues, especially for mothers and children. The project focuses on developing the dike infrastructure to mitigate the effects of the floods, providing access to clean water sources and sanitation systems. It also works with family farmers to improve their farming techniques and business practices so that they are better prepared to address recurring challenges.


By Jacqueline Trieu, Knowledge Management and Project Coordinator for World Vision

Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.

“Our struggle for global sustainability will be won or lost in cities.” – former United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon

Poverty is urbanizing. Over half of the world’s population lives in urban areas. An estimated one billion people live in slums and informal settlements today, without the basic services required for a dignified life. This is projected to increase to one-third of humanity within 30 years. Global Goal 11, meant to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable,” is the first standalone urban-focused/themed Goal, marking the United Nation’s strongest expression ever of the critical role that cities play in the world’s future.

Cities and towns are engines of power, growth, and technology – they are positive signs of development and opportunity. Although this has provided employment and success for many, it is also leaving a vast population behind, resulting in the growth of slums and informal settlements. The “urban advantage” is a myth; proximity to services in urban settings does not mean access. Many urban dwellers, who may live 50 meters away from a hospital, cannot access its services due to their informal status. The urban poor continue to be excluded due to political, social, or economic factors.

Goal 11 is critical because it focuses global attention on the lives of slum dwellers, the diverse challenges of a growing global urban poverty, and its strong inter-linkages with the other 16 Global Goals.

More than one billion children reside in cities today. Hundreds of millions of these children live in slum and informal settlements, the fragile pockets of cities where they are far from realizing their rights to adequate shelter, access to basic services — including quality education, health, and sanitation — protection from violence.

As one of the largest child-focused nongovernmental organizations, Word Vision is already present in the world’s most rapidly urbanizing countries and regions with several innovative programs focusing on protection and safety, health, water and waste management, citizen engagement in policy, and planning. We are committed to contributing to cities that are safe, healthy, resilient, and prosperous.

Every child has the right to grow up in a fair, just, and socially cohesive community, where they are cared for and protected from violence, with equal opportunity to grow, learn, and contribute to shaping our future cities, as current citizens and future leaders of the world. Our programs invest in concrete action at the local level, creating partnerships between different city stakeholders to scale up promising urban solutions.


By Stephanie Hammond, Policy Advisor for Conflicts and Disasters for World Vision
and Julie Stewart, formerly Humanitarian Policy Intern for World Vision

Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels.

Given the level of conflict and upheaval many regions of the world are currently experiencing, Global Goal 16 offers a bold path that strives for peace and justice for all.

Half the world’s children — over one billion — experienced violence in the last year. Violence against children, which includes abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and torture, affects a child’s social, emotional, mental, and physical development and has far-reaching consequences into their future. Children who experience violence are more likely to have poor health over the course of their lifetime and die younger. Violence and exploitation affects a child’s ability to attend school and can reduce their capacity to learn.

Goal 16 highlights ending violence against children. Here at World Vision, our mission statement — “Our vision for every child, life in all its fullness. Our prayer for every heart, the will to make it so.”— is expressed in many ways that align with Goal 16. To achieve our mission, we prioritize the needs of those who are most vulnerable, often those who are the most vulnerable are children. By addressing the needs of vulnerable children, we provide services to address the psychosocial needs of children who have fled conflict or natural disasters and experience severe mental stress or even trauma.

World Vision’s psychosocial support for children is interwoven into existing programming that cuts across education, child protection, and life-skills training. This programming is vital for the well-being of children. Not addressing the emotional impact and stress that children have experienced due to conflict could lead to a generation of children experiencing long-term mental, social, and economic problems.

World Vision places a large emphasis on psychosocial work through Child-Friendly Spaces where children engage in recreational activities that encourage self-expression through art, crafts, and storytelling. They facilitate their need to play and provide a less stressful environment with the care and attention of trained facilitators. For children, the power of play is critical for learning to cope with the horrors of their war experiences or a natural disaster and to rebuild safe relationships with other adults and their peers.

World Vision’s research on Child-Friendly Spaces found children who participated in such programs showed more consistent mental, social, and emotional well-being than refugee children who did not have such opportunities. Our research highlights how these spaces minimize long-term mental damage for children by helping them return to healthy routines and experience normalcy.

Children around the world are unable to attend school due to a lack of access to safe, quality, and affordable education, poverty, and social norms that do not value education for all children. This is why it’s important to integrate advocacy around the Global Goals. While Goal 16 is critical, it needs to be viewed within the context of Goal 4 to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and to promote lifelong learning. Goal 4 focuses on quality education being the foundation for improving people’s lives.

Our hope for children is still far from reality as children are disproportionately affected by conflict. In conflict zones, one in four children do not attend school. The proportion of out-of-school children in conflict-affected zones increased from 30 percent to 36 percent between 1999 and 2012. Despite these staggering numbers, less than 2 percent of all humanitarian assistance is spent on education.

We have the tools to protect children from violence and exploitation, but we must work in a new way. We will need to work in partnership toward the common goal of a world in which children grow up protected and thriving.

Photo: Syrian refugee family warms themselves by a fire in a ditch in front of their tents, burning garbage to stay warm. Hamad and his family, including 10 children ages 2 to 17, live in tents made of tarps on the fringes of agricultural land in West Bekaa, Lebanon. “We came here from Syria four years ago,” Hamad says. “We rent this place to live and we work in the fields for money. But this time of year there is no farm work,” he says. “Without regular work, I’ve fallen into debt for rent and food.” © 2016 World Vision/ photo by Jon Warren

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