The Green Initiative

The Green Initiative aims to scale up the ILO’s knowledge, policy response and capacity to manage a just transition to a low-carbon, sustainable future.

Climate change is already profoundly affecting economies, enterprises, workers and society as a whole. Both it and the necessary response – which is the transformation towards sustainable consumption and production - have become critical considerations in the promotion of full and productive employment and decent work for all.

The ILO’s mandate to promote social justice requires the Organization to provide its fullest support to all its constituents around the world in acting on climate change. The Organization’s involvement is founded in the shared understanding, recognized in the Paris Agreement on climate change, of the imperative to ensure a just transition for all.

In his latest report to the 106th Session of the International Labour Conference, Guy Ryder, Director-General of the ILO, focused on “Work in a changing climate: The Green Initiative”. He discussed the consequences of climate change for the world of work and opportunities that could arise from action to tackle climate change, while underscoring the critical importance of a just transition for all.

Understanding challenges and opportunities of a green transition

The objective of the Green Initiative is to better equip the actors of the world to understand the challenges and opportunities of the coming transition, and help them take up the active role that they must play in managing this change. It will further build the case that decent work approaches and social dialogue are indispensable for truly transformative change.

To that end, the ILO will continue to strengthen its role as unique policy reference on the connections between climate change, low-carbon and resource efficient strategies, on the one hand, and employment, social protection, equality and social dialogue on the other. It will expand research and analysis on frontline issues and complex interactions and consequences of environmental change for the future of work, including through a dedicated report of World Employment and Social Outlook for 2017. 

Forging policy responses from the world of work 

Building on the existing Green Jobs Programme, and integrating with ILO country programmes and strategic outcomes, the Green Initiative catalyses the ILO’s work in four broad areas:
  • Global level: to boost the ILO’s standing as the global centre of excellence on current and future implications for the world of work, climate change and the transition to a greener economy.
  • National level: to enable countries to adopt and implement employment and social policies in support of national commitments on climate change, using the Just Transition policy framework and the related ILO guidance. This work has started in countries such as the Philippines and Uruguay
  • Sectors and enterprises: to incorporate ILO core values and practical approaches in global, regional, sectoral and industry policy frameworks for environmental sustainability.
  • ILO policies and practices: to increase the understanding and use by member states, social partners, relevant UN agencies and international development partners of the importance of employment, social protection and equality in the transition to a greener economy.

Building strategic partnership 

The Green Initiative also serves as a vehicle to expand strategic partnerships, such as with the UN Climate Secretariat (UNFCCC), the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) and other global initiatives.  

The insights, policy tools and guidance on a just transition feed into an expanded knowledge sharing and capacity building programme for constituents and ILO staff through the International Training Center in Turin. In doing so, sustainable development will become fully embedded in all areas of work of the Organization and make the ILO better fit for purpose.

The Green Initiative is also the conduit for actively greening the ILO’s own operations at Headquarters and in the Field, building on the Environmental Sustainability Policy and management system.

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