The importance of just transitions and labour mobility as mitigation and adaptation strategies to climate change

The ILO, as one of the co-conveners of the Issue Based Coalition on Migration in the Arab region (IBC/M), participated in the online Regional Dialogue on Climate Change and Migration Nexus in the Arab Region on 24 and 25 October and organized a session on ‘Migration and labour mobility as an adaptation strategy to climate change and the importance of just transitions’, bringing together ILO’s tripartite constituents who explored the numerous linkages between climate change, migration and the labour market.

Article | 02 November 2022
Panellists referred to mitigation and adaptation measures to climate change and how these can and should include migrant workers
Recognizing that climate change has a profound impact on labour markets and on displacement and migration, this session discussed possible mitigation and adaptation strategies and needs for future action to further protect migrant workers and include them in just transition strategies.

Fifteen per cent of the 169 million migrant workers are hosted by the Arab states of the Middle East and North Africa, with the Arab States of West Asia as the subregion with the highest proportion of migrants in its labour force, standing at 41.4 per cent. The impact of climate change on these workers cannot be ignored – according to ILO research in 2019, the equivalent of 80 million full-time jobs may be lost by 2030 due to rising temperatures, which will render work in certain settings impossible, if no action is taken.

In this context, Mr. Fahad Dafer Al Doseri, Head of Labour Inspection of the Ministry of Labour in Qatar gave an overview of how legislation and policies have been changed in Qatar based on scientific evidence to protect workers against heat stress.

Practical tools such as guides for employers have accompanied changes at the legislative and policy levels. Based on this experience, it became clear that there is a need for evidence-based policies, laws and guidelines to protect all workers, including migrant workers, against the impact of climate change on working conditions.

Shedding light on a different aspect of the interlinkages between climate change, migration and the labour market, panellists highlighted that climate change can add to other key drivers of migration. However, if properly governed, migration – alongside support to access livelihoods’ opportunities in green sectors – represents an important adaptation strategy to climate change.

The second speaker, Ms. Sarah Zaarour, Consultant to the Arab Trade Union Confederation (ATUC) on Climate Change and Just Transition, underlined that effective policies on labour mobility as an adaptation to climate change and national plans on just transition need to be inclusive of all stakeholders and based on social dialogue, involving employer, worker and civil society representatives.

Finally, panellists referred to mitigation and adaptation measures to climate change and how these can and should include migrant workers.

The third speaker, Mr. Ali Serhani, Member of the Social Commission of the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises (CGEM) and Focal Point on Migration in Morocco, International Organisation of Employers (IOE), highlighted that greater efforts are required to expand green economies, which are a net creator of jobs, and skilling men and women workers, including migrant workers, is needed to support just transitions. Green enterprises require a skilled workforce, which also provides opportunities for migrant workers with the requisite skills.

The ILO Guidelines for a Just Transition towards Environmentally Sustainable Economies and Societies for All, adopted by representatives of governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations in 2015, provide a policy framework and an operational tool to address environmental change in a way that at the same time advances social justice and promotes decent work creation.,

The ILO Labour Migration Branch, within the Just Transition Pavilion at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (UNFCCC COP 27) in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, will bring together policymakers from governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations to further raise awareness on the effects of climate change on migration and human mobility and the importance of just transitions and the protection of migrant workers. In collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), UNFCCC, Platform on Disaster Displacement, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), and the Secretariat of the UN Network on Migration, several events will be organised to build bridges and synergies between migration-focused practitioners, and climate change-focused practitioners.

for additional information, please also read the following press release.

For more information, please contact:

Isabelle Kronisch, Labour migration and mobility specialist, DWT North and East Africa,

Ryszard Cholewinski; Senior Labour migration specialist for the Arab states,’