As the International Labour Organization (ILO) celebrates its centenary, its founding precept remains as relevant as ever: the main breeding grounds for threats to peace are the injustices and unequal opportunities that result from ongoing economic transformation. The moral idea that forged the ILO still lies at the heart of the international efforts for peace and development driving the Agenda for Humanity, the Agenda for Sustainable Development and the consensus on the need for inclusive growth that will "leave no one behind". This introductory chapter explains the rationale behind the 11th special issue of International Development Policy, which addresses questions around the ILO's capacity for action and its effectiveness, the relevance of its programmes and ability to adapt to a world of work undergoing profound change. The volume of thirteen chapters highlights the tensions that constitute the ILO and its action, the changing and different environments in which the Organization operates, and the initiatives taken by the ILO to respond to these challenges. The need for adaptation is especially pronounced today in view of the acceleration of technological developments and radical changes in the organisation of employment and work, and the consequent impact on social protection systems.