Sustainable Ideas for the Future of Work at UN Day Dresden

  • 2019/11/07     Dresden, Germany

    Image: Stacey Roden/UNU-FLORES

    By Claudia Seiler

    The commemoration of the entry into force of the United Nations seventy-four years ago was celebrated on 28 October 2019 in the Dresden New Town Hall. To recognise another anniversary, 100 years since the foundation of the International Labor Organization (ILO), this year’s topic focused on “The Future of Work”.

    UNU-FLORES and local partners – the United Nations Association for Germany – for Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia e.V., City of Dresden, Lokale Agenda 21 für Dresden e.V., UNICEF Working Group Dresden, Lions Club Dresden Agenda 21, and Technische Universität Dresden – organised an exciting programme, not only on this day but also in the week running up to the evening celebration.

    The programme line-up included elements like the Kids Takeover Dresden – School Kids Take Over Decision-Making Positions in Dresden (21–25 October 2019) organised by the UNICEF Working Group Dresden, the workshop “Sustainable Management – Future of Work” (28 October 2019) with over 30 participants, and the awards ceremony for the 20th Agenda Competition organised by the Local Agenda 21 for Dresden e.V. and the Lions Club Dresden Agenda 21.

    The evening programme was opened by Eva Jähnigen, Deputy Mayor of the City of Dresden who welcomed all delegates, speakers, and prize winners and thanked the organisers and supporters for this sixth UN Day held in the City of Dresden. Anne Bibas, Head of Unicef – Team Dresden presented a video on their work introducing the UN to children.

    In her speech, Prof. Edeltraud Guenther, Director of UNU-FLORES, challenged the audience to think about their personal answer to the question “Why do we work?”. She explained that everybody has a different understanding and therefore, the answer to this question is multifaceted. It can be seen as input, process, output, outcome, and/or impact. Only if we understand how we see work can we develop an idea of the future of work, which is the central topic for this year’s UN Day.

    “The future of work must be seen as an important building block on the way to the sustainable development of society.”
    Prof. Edeltraud Guenther

    Prof. Guenther proceeded with a critical overview of UNU-FLORES’s own sustainability approach in terms of general workspace, flexible working hours, collaboration, resources, and digitalisation and linked it to these various elements.

    Image: Stacey Roden/UNU-FLORES

    Dr Annette Niederfranke, Director of the ILO Representation in Germany, gave a very clear and structured presentation on how governments, employees, and employers around the world can better meet the challenges of the work landscape in the next century. She reminded the audience that the fears of 1919, e.g., if machines and robots would take over our jobs, remain prevalent today – 100 years after the founding of the ILO.

    She talked about investment into people with a right for lifelong learning, gender justice, and social security. Dr Niederfranke also spoke about the need for investment into institutions of work in order to establish time sovereignty, revitalise collective representation, and create (digital) technologies that support employees with their tasks rather than use these technologies for their surveillance. She also touched upon investment in decent and sustainable work, such as green infrastructure.

    “Sustainability and human rights at work go hand in hand.”
    – Dr Annette Niederfranke

    Afterwards, Eva Jähnigen joined in to discuss solutions for entrepreneurs and the city government of Dresden regarding sustainability and corporate culture. All three speakers discussed exciting topics, including the responsibility for work standards, evaluating human capital in accounting, and on translating these issues from the global to the local level.

    Another highlight of the event was the annual prize ceremony that honours local sustainability initiatives and awarded a total of 6,000 euro prize money. Julia Leuterer, who leads Local Agenda 21 for Dresden e.V. – a local organisation that initiates dialogue and mobilises the community towards achieving a sustainable future – moderated the ceremony.

    This year the awards that honour local sustainability initiatives went to UFER-Projekte Dresden e.V. and Grenzenlos Musizieren e.V., while the Audience Choice Award went to Quartiermeister – Korrekter Konsum GmbH.

    Image: Stacey Roden/UNU-FLORES

    Image: Lokale Agenda 21 für Dresden e.V.

    Throughout the evening the local band “Huderich spielt Gundermann” entertained the participants with critical songs by the songwriter Gundermann.

    The UN Day closed with a celebratory reception. The participants had the opportunity to end the evening with discussions and enjoy this year’s exhibition that focused on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, 100 years of the ILO, and stalls by the prizewinning initiatives.

    The evening event attracted over 230 registered participants.