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Somavia: Decent work is key for a greener economy

The ILO chief talked about the need for an integrated approach linking the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development at a roundtable during the Rio+20 Conference.

News | 22 June 2012
"What happens in a global conference must reflect what is happening on the ground" said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia.
Listen to the interview of ILO Director-General by the BBC
RIO DE JANEIRO – The head of the International Labour Organization, Juan Somavia, has said decent jobs and social protection must be at the heart of the transition to a greener economy.

“Productive, quality jobs and social protection are at the core of an integrated approach to the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development,” said Mr. Somavia.

He was speaking at a roundtable on the expected outcomes of the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development.

Mr. Somavia underlined three key contributions that the ILO is presenting to governments to facilitate a jobs-based transition to a greener future.

The first consists of a sectoral analysis of the impact that the greening of the economy has on jobs, with a particular focus on opportunities for youth.

He referred to the Plan of Action for youth adopted during the 2012 International Labour Conference, which includes a set of policies and measures tested in several countries to tackle the problem of youth unemployment in the transition to a greener economy.

Another key area is the extension of social protection floors, which are nationally-defined plans providing people with essential healthcare and benefits, as well basic income security. He quoted the Bachelet report, which showed that social protection floors are powerful tools to combat poverty and boost demand in times of economic crisis.

Mr. Somavia mentioned the new Recommendation on social protection floors adopted on 14 June by the International Labour Conference, as a “useful guide for each country to implement its own social protection floor approach in accordance with its specific reality.”

Finally, Mr. Somavia highlighted the role of social dialogue. He said the ILO would promote tripartite events involving representatives of governments, workers and employers to raise awareness and build capacities in sectors affected by the transition.

According to an ILO-UNEP report issued days before the Rio+20 Conference, the transition to a green economy is expected to affect 1.5 billion people throughout the world – or about half of the global labour force.