Five ways in which the ILO is working on climate change

Analísis | 28 de noviembre de 2014
Climate change negotiators are increasingly realising the importance of the linkages between the agendas of climate change and the promotion of decent work for all. For example, the group of G77 and China recently referred to the creation of “new and sustainable jobs” in their statements at climate talks. Similarly, the French presidency for COP 21 in Paris is emphasizing a “positive agenda” stressing the benefits of climate action for health, jobs and social inclusion.

The ILO’s climate change toolbox, including the just transition framework adopted in the conclusions of the International Labour Conference 2013 discussions on "sustainable development, decent work and green jobs", can contribute in many ways to help countries understand better and manage the shift to low-carbon economies:
  • Enhancing the understanding on the linkages between climate change and labour markets: The ILO has been analysing the links between climate change impacts and policies, on the one hand, and social and labour market outcomes, on the other, since 2007. (see for example the technical brief "The social and decent work dimensions of a new Agreement on Climate Change"). As a result, fears about job losses have been allayed and focus has shifted to the opportunities for more and better jobs. The need to anticipate employment and social impact and to attenuate negative impacts is more widely recognized. This applies to workers affected by structural change, to countries suffering major impacts from climate change (Caribbean and other small island states, South Asia, parts of Sub-Saharan Africa) and to poor segments of society. The latter are disproportionately affected by the effects of climate change but also by tax measures aiming at internalizing costs of fossil fuel such as carbon pricing and abolition of fuel subsidies. A careful assessment of how these measures may impact low-income households and mechanism to ensure they are not worse-off as a result should be put in place.
  • Facilitating mitigation actions: A major barrier to advancing climate change mitigation is human capacity gaps and skills shortages in key sectors such as energy, buildings, manufacturing and agriculture. ILO’s research on skills gaps and needs for green jobs, assistance to technical and vocational education and training institutions and sectoral interventions have been instrumental in enhancing the capacity of countries to adapt skills and job qualifications in line with needs for climate mitigation. For instance, the ILO has been providing technical support to the regional network of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions in Central America and the Dominican Republic, within the framework of the FOIL project. To date learning standards and curricula for eight green occupations have been developed and included into the vocational training portfolio of all countries. The ILO is also currently working in Zambia on the promotion of green building under the Zambia Green Jobs Programme, a One-UN programme which includes a strong component on enhancing MSMEs capacity to effectively participate in the green building goods and services markets.
  • Supporting adaptation measures: Climate change is having direct impacts on workers and employers. Thus, specific measures to meet their needs in the face of increased risks and help the preparedness of enterprises should form part of adaptation policies. ILO programmes on social protection, micro-insurance and public investment all play a vital role in climate change adaptation strategies. For instance, after the typhoon Haiyan tore the Philippines in 2013, the ILO helped put in place emergency employment programs in the hardest hit areas. Such programs brought much-needed immediate income and guaranteed minimum wage, social protection and safety and health to thousands of workers who had lost their livelihoods, while also ensuring better opportunities for affected communities in the longer term. Moreover, the ILO-led Climate Change Adaptation Demonstration Project (CCAP) in southern Philippines, aimed at providing micro-insurances to farmers, specific information about expected impacts of climate on their agricultural production and knowledge about adaptation options. helped increase their savings, incomes and become more climate resilient.Besides, very often migration becomes a necessity for those highly affected by climate change. Creating decent work opportunities in construction, agriculture or food production through among other actions, the provision of skills in alternative settlements is part of the work done by the ILO in Fiji and Tuvalu in the context of adaptation efforts.
  • Mobilising ILO constituents: ILO is mobilizing its constituents to address climate change by providing avenues for tripartite dialogue, exchange of experiences and capacity building. In this respect, a tripartite meeting on the challenges and opportunities posed by climate change to decent work in the Caribbean region took place at the recent ILO Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean in October 2014. Workers, employers and governments agreed on the importance of mainstreaming climate change into labour policies in the framework of sustainable development, in particular on employment creation for young workers.
  • Facilitating consensus building: Social dialogue is instrumental for effective decision-making in the area of climate change. The ILO’s tripartite structure has been useful to facilitate awareness raising, dialogue and proactive engagement at national, regional and global levels. Examples are pro-active climate policies in Europe, but also Brazil and South Africa. The ILO is building the capacity of its constituents to be able to fulfil their role in tackling climate change. Social dialogue has been a key dimension of different ILO projects around the world aiming at increasing energy, water and material efficiency and therefore enabling low-carbon development to happen at the workplace level too. Dialogue between workers and employers as well as training on environmental and decent work issues are common elements of some projects. Indeed, the case of the Greener Business Asia project in both Thailand and the Philippines resulted in important levels of CO2 emissions reduction and an increase of working conditions. Likewise, the ILO provided support to the Chilean forestry sector social dialogue process to develop sustainable strategies for the forestry sector.