Historical archive

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg

Speech at the IMF/ ILO Conference The Challenges of Growth, Employment and Social Cohesion

Historical archive

Published under: Stoltenberg's 2nd Government

Publisher Office of the Prime Minister

Oslo, 13 September 2010

- Today, world leaders face a great responsibility. We have to succeed in our joint efforts to create more jobs and economic development, the Prime Minister said.

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President Johnson Sirleaf,
Prime Minister Zapatero,
Prime Minister Papandreou,
Co-host Strauss-Kahn,
And Co-host Somavia,
Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to welcome you all to Oslo.

     ***

The world economy has been through a period of unprecedented turmoil.

What started as a crisis in the financial market, has turned into a crisis in the labour market.

Unemployment has increased by more than 30 million. Millions of people have been pushed into severe poverty.

The IMF and the ILO have together created a unique arena for discussing what matters to people all over the world:

How can we create a better future for millions of people affected by the jobs crisis?

What policies are needed to create more jobs and more sustainable livelihoods?

* * *

History offers many painful lessons of the cost of unemployment, both for individuals and for society.

Typically, unemployment affects those who have the least - most severely.

In many countries, young people and low-skilled workers are struggling.

Moreover, unemployment represents a huge economic cost.

High unemployment reduces economic growth and increases budget deficits.

Also, when unemployment increases substantially, it tends to stay high.

Many who leave the labour market during a deep recession never return.

If we succeed in bringing unemployment down, we also succeed in bringing growth rates up and budget deficits down.

* * *

There is no single strategy that fits all.

Different countries face different challenges.

However, I believe that the following four elements are of the utmost importance.

First, we need better international coordination.

More coherent financial regulation more trade and more development cooperation.

We must learn from each other.

Key international organisations must bring policy makers together and provide relevant advice.

I therefore commend Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Juan Somavia for taking this initiative.

Both the IMF and the ILO have once again proven their importance and relevance during the recent financial crisis.

Second, we need to strike the right balance between consolidating public finances
and supporting a fragile recovery.

Jose Zapatero and George Papandreou have shown great courage in addressing the economic crisis.

You have both made tough decisions and I commend your determination.

Third, we need active labour market policies to address long-term and youth unemployment.

And finally, we need to promote innovation and investments.

We must design policies that encourage entrepreneurs and companies to make investments and hire labour.

* * *

The current jobs crisis started in the developed countries.

However, many developing countries have also been hit hard.

Countries with limited ability and resources to deal with the impact of the crisis.

We in the rich world must uphold our commitment to development assistance.

We must encourage trade and investment in developing countries.

This is no easy task at a time when many developed countries are cutting back on core elements of their welfare systems.

However, cutting back on aid and restricting access to our own markets will serve neither developing countries nor ourselves in the long term.

I very much look forward to hearing President Johnson Sirleaf’s perspective on these issues.

Madam President, in a few short years you have succeeded in reducing poverty and establishing a stable framework for economic growth in your country.

* * *

Today, world leaders face a great responsibility.

We must avoid a situation where unemployment becomes permanent. We need policies for a sustainable, job-rich recovery. Policies targeting those who are in danger of being permanently shut out of the labour market, such as young people. Policies coordinating our actions and establishing a common understanding of the challenges we face.

We have to succeed in our joint efforts to create more jobs and economic development.

* * *

Again, welcome to Oslo.

I look forward to our discussion today.

Thank you. 

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