The conference on “The Challenges of Growth, Employment and Social Cohesion”, the first of its kind, is sponsored by the Norwegian government and is chaired by IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn and ILO Director General Juan Somavia. Other high-level participants in the conference include Finance Minister Christine Lagarde of France; U.K. Secretary of State for Labour Iain Duncan Smith; and International Trade Union Confederation General Secretary Sharan Burrow. Several heads of state also come to Oslo to attend, including Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Greece Prime Minister George Papandreou and Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.
– The problems many countries are still grappling with, illustrates that it is too early to say that the challenges associated with the international financial crisis is over. In particular, the high unemployment among young people is serious. In some countries, there is talk of a lost generation, where a too large proportion of young people never gets a foothold in the labor market. This contributes to frustration, despondency and social unrest, “said the prime minister, Stoltenberg.