Climate Change and Green Economy

  • Asian Trade Unions take up the Green and Decent Jobs challenge

    In Surabaya, Indonesia, trade unions made clear who is leading efforts to transform the world of work into a sustainable one.

    Surabaya – Indonesia, September 2012.

    Green and decent jobs are crucial for workers and for the planet. This is the main message coming out from the Asian and the Pacific workers’ group after three days of experience-sharing with governments and employers on the International Labour Organisation’s Green Jobs Conference in Asia.

    Scaling up and tailoring awareness raising actions on environmental challenges, mainstreaming the need for green and decent jobs in public policies and ensuring Green Jobs projects are owned by national trade unions emerged as clear priorities for labour representatives from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Fiji, the Philippines, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, China and Bangladesh.

    ‘This agenda can help us mobilizing and organizing workers which have not joined trade unions yet’, said Brother Mathi Yugarajah, Vice President of the Ceylon Workers’ Congress, who represented the workers’ group in a round table with UN and government officials. ‘We need to ensure informal workers are on board in our green and decent jobs agenda’.

    In the workers’ group final, inspiring remarks, Brother W.M Naim from the Malaysian Trade Union Congress, confirmed the labour movements’ commitment to this agenda. “We still have much to learn, but we are conscious that we will only achieve full employment and decent work in our region if we protect the environment and fight climate change”, said Naim. And he made a plea to governments and employers, the other two constituencies of the ILO: “We urgently need to act. The transition must start now”.

    The Workers’ group final declaration can be found below.
    Find more on the ILO Asian Green Jobs Initiative here

    Challenges and opportunities for the future and priorities for action

    Workers’ messages

    Green Jobs are part of the response of the World of Work to environmental degradation and climate change and the need for full employment and decent work.

    This can only be achieved if we protect the environment and fight climate change. We urgently need to act.

    We welcome the development of green jobs/decent work initiatives in the Asia Pacific region.

    However, as workers’ representatives from the Asian and the Pacific region, we believe much more needs still to be done to truly modify current patterns of production, which are socially and environmentally unsustainable.

    The transition towards sustainability constitutes a far-reaching transformation, bigger than any other faced before. Unless we can ensure social justice in the transformation, it will be impossible to achieve the highest environmental standards.

    This is the reason why the Green Jobs initiative needs to contribute to a Just Transition.

    In the future, the Green Jobs initiative in the region should aim at:

    On awareness raising and capacity building,

    • Develop tailored materials and activities targeting all social partners, including trade union leadership, union advisers and workers at the shop floor, and rely on local experts.
    • Ensure materials incorporate ‘the basics’ of environmental challenges and their relationship with workers’ interests
    • Promote integration of informal sector workers in all activities

    When it comes to demonstration projects, it is key that in the future

    • There is a consultation with all the three constituents at the country level on the sectors and location of the projects
    • There is real involvement of unions in all aspects of the project’s implementation, including evaluation and ILO constituents are beneficiaries of the project
    • Projects support efforts towards formalization of workers and improving working conditions in all the dimensions of the DW agenda
    • Focus on sectors which represent a challenge for environment in the countries, such as manufacturing, mining, etc.
    • There is continuous support for projects until they reach self-sustainability, and there is an ‘exit’ strategy for the ILO. The evaluation should be made public.

    Finally, on policy, the Green Jobs Initiative should

    • Promote public policies on environmental protection which would make real the job potential of green jobs projects and mainstream them in development planning
    • Assess the employment and distributional impacts of environmental degradation as well as of environmental policies.
    • Support the development and strengthen social protection systems, in order to secure incomes of those whose jobs and livelihoods might be at risk as a consequence of environmental changes or environmental policies.
    • Bring environmental issues to social dialogue structures, and develop partnerships with communities, NGO and academia.
    • Support local strategies to create alternative sources of jobs and livelihoods for regions that might suffer from the transition towards sustainability.
    • At the international level, it should develop a standard on green jobs which would identify roles and responsibilities in the transition towards sustainability and define the boundaries of green jobs work.