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World of Work Must Adapt to Unprecedented Period of Change

FILE - U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres is warning the world has to adapt to unprecedented changes in the world of work to ensure a sustainable future and create a more just society. Guterres spoke at the International Labor Conference.

In congratulating the International Labor Organization on its centenary anniversary, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres cites the ILO’s many achievements in establishing labor standards that have improved the safety and quality of work for millions of people.

He says the challenges facing the agency over the next 100 years are likely to be even more daunting.

“As we look ahead, we know new technologies — especially artificial intelligence — will inevitably lead to a massive destruction of jobs and a massive creation of new jobs," said Guterres. "It is difficult to now foresee all these impacts, but it is clear that the future will require a range of new and different skills.”

To keep abreast of new demands, he says governments will have to make large investments in education that are flexible and based on the learning needs of a lifetime.

Guterres says the well-being of people must be at the center of economic and social policies. That involves the creation of decent work that is sustainable for the long run. He notes a sustainable future for the world of work is not possible without addressing the urgent demands of climate change.

“Addressing the climate emergency is indeed the defining issue of our time. Climate action could create millions of sustainable jobs," said Guterres. "Green business has proven to be good business. But climate change is moving faster than we are and we are risking a future with increased instability, inequality and poverty.”

The U.N. chief says new momentum must be injected into the climate change debate. He says the new momentum is needed to transform political and economic systems to meet the goals set in the Paris Climate Accord to reduce emissions that are harming the survivability of the planet.

He says he hopes to move in that direction by convening a climate action summit in September at U.N. headquarters in New York

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