World Environment Day 2016

Preserve the environment to boost development and provide jobs

Illegal wildlife trade harms not only the environment, it risks jobs, development and livelihoods, says ILO Director-General Guy Ryder, on World Environment Day

Statement | 05 June 2016
This year, World Environment Day 2016 comes at a significant moment, as it is the first to follow the historic adoption of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and the Paris Agreement on climate change. Both landmark agreements have propelled sustainable development to the centre of the global agenda.

The theme of this year’s observance – illegal trade in wildlife – is important to the world of work in a number of ways.

Wildlife, through a range of productive activities and industries dependent on it, such as nature-based tourism, supports numerous jobs. Also, workers such as park rangers and forest managers are vital to the protection and conservation of the world’s biodiversity.

Many countries facing illegal poaching and trade in wildlife rely to a significant extent on industries and jobs based on biodiversity.

Nature-based tourism is a fast growing segment of the global tourism industry. It generates millions of jobs around the world and provides a huge potential for economic growth and poverty reduction. It is essential therefore that the important social and economic contributions of wildlife to jobs and livelihoods be preserved and protected. Furthermore many of the world’s poor depend on natural resources as their principal means of making a living.

Sustainable development also implies designing strategies that create alternative employment opportunities for those trapped in exploitative practices in forests, mines and wildlife hunting.

On the occasion of World Environment Day, we are reminded of our individual and collective responsibility to protect our environment and to enhance environmental sustainability.

We recognize also, in line with target 8.4 of the 2030 Agenda, the specific need to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, and progressively improve resource efficiency in production and consumption. Managing this transformation will have profound implications for the world of work, and only through social dialogue can we ensure that the transition is just.

At the beginning of this year, the ILO issued its Environmental Sustainability Policy to progressively mainstream environmental sustainability in our results-based management frameworks, policies and programmes, Decent Work Country Programmes and projects.

The ILO joins the international community in calling for the engagement and determination of all of us to fight the illegal trade in wildlife for the intrinsic value it represents, and for the many jobs and livelihoods that depend on the sustainable management of our natural resources.