Road to COP28: Just Transition for Arab States

The ILO hosted an event at the COP27 conference to explore how to move from commitment to implementation of Just Transition policies in Arab countries.

Press release | 24 November 2022

SHARM-EL-SHEIKH (ILO News) – The first ever Just Transition Pavilion, organized by the ILO and the European Commission at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt, hosted an event to explore means of tapping into the huge potential for job creation in a diversified economy in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

Panellists at the Road to COP28 - Just Transition for Arab states event included government officials and ILO and energy specialists. They examined how some Arab countries are the largest contributors to emissions and climate changing climate, while the Arab region is also one of the most impacted by climate change, with water scarcity, desertification, loss of biodiversity being some of the effects already witnessed.

The event discussed how, in order to tap into the huge potential for job creation in a diversified economy, a comprehensive set of just transition policies has the potential to stimulate economic growth and added value in agriculture, industry and services.

Finland’s Minister of Social Affairs and Health Hanna Sarkkinen was one of the panellists at the event. “Climate change is a social policy challenge. We need all people to participate. This requires poverty and inequality reduction, decent work, gender equality and social protection,” Minister Sarkkinen said.

Egypt’s Minister of Social Solidarity Nevine El-Qabbage stated: “Egypt adopts a life-cycle approach in social protection interventions o ensure tackling multi-dimensional poverty and different vulnerabilities at different stages of the lifecycle of most vulnerable groups to ensure leaving no one behind”.

Nathalie Bavitch, the ILO’s Partnerships and UN Coherence Officer for Arab States, co-moderated the event. “The MENA region is at the heart of the climate change discussions, not only in terms of vulnerability to the impact of climate change regarding water scarcity, desertification and other factors, but also in terms of the enormous human, natural and economic potential to leap-frog and fast track clean economic growth,” Bavitch said. “A set of Just transition policies holds the possibility of enhancing economic growth and value addition in agriculture, industry and services.”

José Manuel Medina Checa, the ILO’s Enterprise Development and Job Creation Specialist for Northern Africa, also co-moderated the event. “According to our own studies, by 2030, more than two per cent of total working hours worldwide may be lost every year as a result of climate change, either because it is too hot to work or because workers have to work at a slower pace. 18 million more jobs will result from achieving the Paris Agreement target,” Medina Checa said.

In 2015, the Governing Body of the International Labour Organization (ILO) adopted a decision concerning Guidelines for a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all. The Guidelines aim at enabling governments, workers and employers around the globe to leverage the process of structural change towards a greener, low-carbon economy, create decent jobs at a large-scale and promote social protection. They put forward that macroeconomics and growth policies, industrial and sectoral policies, enterprises policies, skills development, occupational safety and health, social protection, active labour market policies, rights and social dialogue and tripartism are all key policies areas for a just transition for all. Policies for a just transition aim to facilitate the redeployment of redundant workers, to equip people with appropriate and upgraded skills for new job creation, and to introduce innovative social protection measures.

The Just Transition Pavilion aimed at keeping the social dimension of climate change at the forefront of discussions at the COP27 Conference. It was organized by the ILO and the EC in cooperation with the UNFCCC, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the International Organisation of Employers (IOE). You can replay all events held at the Pavilion on this page.