The world-wide goals of sustainable growth, jobs, poverty reduction and equitable development cannot be achieved unless directly tackled at the rural level. Rural areas hold considerable potential for high return activities and productive livelihoods. However they are often held back by scant investment and decent work deficits, particularly, high under- and unemployment among youth and women, widespread child labour, informality and poor working conditions, limited social and labour law coverage, and weak organization among employers and workers.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), environmental concerns, and the food security and economic crises now provide an additional sense of urgency to explicitly target rural revitalization, and to muster the needed political and economic will and resources.
The ILO can make important contributions to rural development by supporting governments, employers and workers promote productive employment and decent work. It can draw on a vast array of rural-relevant approaches and tools in core technical areas, long-time experience, and a network of external partnerships.