Coalition of Action on Decent Work and Living Incomes and Wages for All Food Systems Workers

The Coalition of Action on Decent Work and Living Incomes and Wages for All Food Systems Workers (DWLIW) is committed to the goal of ensuring economic and social justice and the right to adequate and nutritious food for all food systems workers. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the fragility of our food systems and exacerbated the decent work deficits endured by agri-food workers in many countries. We now have the chance to rethink our traditional approaches and develop effective strategies to build back better.

The Coalition aims to pursue its goal by advancing equitable livelihoods by promoting labour and human rights and increasing opportunities for decent and productive employment within the agri-food sector, including achieving 100% living incomes and wages. This involves creating equitable opportunities to earn decent incomes through productive farming, fishing and pastoralism and improving decent employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in on- and off-farm enterprises, and other related sectors of the food system; and, ensuring sustainability and resilience of income and jobs to adverse shocks, crisis and climate change. Particular attention is paid to promoting fundamental principles and rights at work guaranteeing the right to organise, to be free from child labour, forced labour and discrimination, with a focus on groups of workers particularly exposed to socio-economic vulnerability such as migrant workers, youth, women, Indigenous peoples, informal economy workers, and those marginalized on grounds of ethnicity, race, religion, and disability.

To achieve its ambitious objectives, the work of this Coalition is structured around 5 priority areas. These have been based on the notion of decent work, as conceptualized by the International Labour Organization (ILO) some two decades ago, and now embedded in the SDGs, and the four pillars of the Decent Work Agenda: (1) rights at work, (2) full and productive employment, (3) social protection, and (4) social dialogue. The priority areas for action are:

  1. Institutionalising and strengthening labour and human rights and improving labour governance in food systems
  2. Promoting decent employment in food systems, with a focus on more and better jobs for the most vulnerable
  3. Empowering food system workers through strengthening workplace organization and effective social dialogue
  4. Ensuring the right to social protection and income security
  5. Achieving 100% living incomes and wages


With this Coalition, the partners aim to achieve the following outcomes:

  1. Policy-oriented research, tools and advocacy effectively support action towards equitable livelihoods, decent work and living incomes and wages for all food system workers.
  2. Policies, strategies, plans and measures promote decent work, in particular international labour standards, and decent incomes and wages, in the sectors of national food systems, underpinned by strengthened capacity of national stakeholders to effectively implement them.
  3. Multi-stakeholder social dialogue platforms and mechanisms facilitate consensus building on opportunities and challenges for the promotion of equitable livelihoods, decent work and living incomes and wages in food systems and foster mutual learning.
  4. Targeted interventions to effectively advance equitable and sustainable livelihoods, decent work and living income and wages in agriculture and food sectors.

Evidence on the need for the coalition

While playing a critical role in feeding the world, food system workers regularly face high levels of working poverty, chronic food insecurity, poor health and safety conditions, and lack of labour and social protection. In many countries, they experience the highest incidence of poverty. Two-thirds of the extreme poor are engaged in agriculture, where more than 90 percent of employment is informal. They are often from indigenous, caste-oppressed, racialised, and socially marginalised communities.

Additionally, the wider agricultural sector accounts for the largest share of child labour worldwide. Seventy percent of all children in child labour are in agriculture.

Agriculture is one of the most hazardous sectors. Millions of agricultural workers suffer workplace injuries, poisoning by pesticides, and occupational disease.

Mechanisms of implementation

Given the utmost urgency of sustained and meaningful action at all levels to reach the respective 2030 SDGs, this Coalition has identified the following mechanisms of implementation: United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework and One UN country programmes; national policies and strategies on agriculture, employment, rural development, social protection, youth and other relevant areas; development cooperation programmes; employment intensive investment programmes; private sector initiatives and programmes. At global level, these may include initiatives, processes and programmes implemented under the auspices of the UN, civil society, private sector and relevant development cooperation platforms.

Strategic partners

  • International Labour Organisation (ILO)
  • International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
  • CARE international
  • World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD)
  • Private Sector Mechanism (PSM)
  • Member States

Monitoring and Evaluation

Most relevant SDG targets:

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