HLPF 2023: ITUC delegate calls for social dialogue on just transition and adequate international financial support to save climate-impacted island nations

Fathimath Zimna, secretary general of the Maldives Trade Union Congress and ITUC delegate at the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), talked about the significant challenges that workers in climate-impacted countries face during a High-Level Discussion held on 18 July.

The discussion was co-organised by the ILO, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and the Permanent Missions to the UN of Belgium and Morocco. It aimed to share experiences and best practices on effective policy measures and financing strategies to promote a just transition based on social justice, inclusive, sustainable economies and fair international cooperation.

With her intervention, Fathimath Zimna brought to the discussion a first-hand account of the reality of workers living in a country where more than 50 per cent of the national budget must be invested in in efforts to adapt to the effects of climate change.

Zimna expressed the Maldivian trade unions’ concern about the world’s lack of progress in dealing with the climate emergency. She warned against losing the opportunity to reduce the use of fossil fuels and keep temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius, as International financial support to help at-risk countries such as the Maldives to transform their energy system to renewables and to scale up adaptation efforts are not arriving at the necessary scale and speed. Meanwhile, workers in the Maldives are facing very difficult conditions due to insufferable heat and a dangerous environment as they face increasingly violent storms and floods, and the atolls are becoming severely eroded.

Moreover, Zimna called for improving the engagement of workers and their unions to decide how investments are being done to assure the creation of decent work and quality jobs.

“Just transition policy plans must be developed through social dialogue with the workers at the company level, at sector level and at national level. Taking workers’ interests into account will generate trust and support across society,” said Zimna.

In conclusion, Zimna laid out the global labour movement’s main priorities on climate and social protection aiming at promoting and strengthening the labour dimension of just transition in global processes and advocating for adequate international financing to deliver on the objectives of the 2030 Agenda and beyond.