Green jobs

Opening address at the regional dialogue on green growth for jobs and social inclusion: making the case for a just transition in Asia

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the regional dialogue on green growth for jobs and social inclusion: making the case for a just transition in Asia

Statement | Manila, Philippines | 25 September 2017
  • Assistant Secretary Evelyn Cruzada, representing Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr.
  • Mr Leonard Johnson, Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Sweden in Manila
  • Distinguished government officials and representatives from workers’ and employers’ organizations, academia, civil society, private sector from the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Mongolia, development partners
  • Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, good morning!
It is a great pleasure to welcome you to this regional dialogue on “Green growth for jobs and social inclusion: making the case for a just transition in Asia”.

To the delegates and colleagues from Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Thailand, Switzerland, and Italy, I warmly welcome you as well to the Philippines.

This regional dialogue is a joint initiative between the ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, ILO Country Office for the Philippines, the Green Jobs Programme and the International Training Centre of the ILO. This is part of ILO’s increased support to member States to ensure a just transition.

As we build on project results, initiatives and experiences, we have over the next three days an opportunity for dialogue. The knowledge and experience that you have on a just transition and the climate action will bring much value to this regional dialogue. Your voices matter in transitioning to a greener economy and society.

Of course, this learning event will not be possible if not for the support of the Philippine Government and social partners and the Swedish International Development Agency, which we would like to acknowledge.

This is timely as we, the ILO, have recently concluded this year’s International Labour Conference – also known as the annual parliament of labour – which brought together governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations from 187 member States.

Our Director General called for needed policies to make transition happen and to make it just. In his report, entitled Work in a changing climate: the Green Initiative, he highlighted “the potential for greening of production to be a powerful engine for decent work creation and strong balanced growth and development”.

We know that climate change is a result of human activity, and in most part, is work-related. At the same time, impacts of climate change continue to undermine productivity and affect enterprises, jobs, and livelihoods.

It is for this reason that the world of work will have to play a key role in taking action to solve this pressing issue, together with all relevant stakeholders.

We do not have to choose between creating jobs for people and preserving the environment. Environmental sustainability is a must, including from a labour market perspective.

While it is true that as we pursue a more sustainable economy, some jobs will be at risk. This is the case for highly polluting or energy-intensive activities, but new jobs will be created as well.

In fact, a greener economy has the potential to generate more decent, green jobs that contribute significantly, not only to climate mitigation and adaptation, but also to reducing poverty and promoting social inclusion.

We are already seeing this trend across sectors. Sectors such as forestry, energy, recycling, transport and agriculture are likely to gain considerably from the transition to a greener economy.

The challenge that lies ahead, however is not just about creating more jobs. It is the quality of those jobs that really matters. Sustainable development must be pursued in full regard to its social and economic dimensions, not only its environmental consequences. Otherwise, the transition to a greener economy will be anything but just.

With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in 2015, the international community has at its disposal a global framework to combat climate change, pave the way to a low-carbon and climate-resilient future and set the course for human well-being to 2030 and beyond.

A number of shared principles underpin this global framework, including the need of decoupling economic growth from energy and resource consumption and environmental degradation, and the promotion of decent jobs as a means to achieve sustainable development and a just transition for all, meaning that no one is left behind.

These principles essentially embody the notion that economies and societies can develop while reducing their adverse impact on the living environment and on the long term availability of natural resources.

Countries have begun to integrate commitments and goals into their national development plans and strategies, by adopting approaches like green growth, greening of economies, low-carbon development, and decarbonizing development.

If well managed, these transitions to environmentally and socially sustainable economies can become a driver of job creation, job upgrading, social justice and poverty eradication.

The ILO has been increasingly active in promoting environmental sustainability in the workplace.

The concept of “green jobs” summarizes the particular angle the ILO takes to preserve and to restore a sustainable environment through transformative growth either in traditional economic sectors or in new, emerging green sectors.

This carries the qualitative notion that green jobs require to be fairly remunerated and productive, need to provide sufficient levels of social protection, ensure social dialogue, and guarantee rights at work, while contributing to reduce inequalities.

In 2013, governments, workers and employers’ organizations adopted a resolution and conclusions to achieve decent work, green jobs and sustainable development at the 102nd International Labour Conference. It further recognized challenges and opportunities and the need to put forward a policy framework for a ‘Just Transition’.

Policy Guidelines on “Just Transition towards Environmentally Sustainable Economies and Societies for All” (Just Transition) was adopted by the ILO in 2015. These Guidelines offer the ILO and its constituents a framework and a practical tool to ensure that national and global efforts to tackle climate change and other environmental challenges, advance employment creation goals, social justice and fair transitions for workers, enterprises and communities on an equal footing.

The ILO has been supporting member States to address just transition issues, with the pilot application of the Just Transition policy guidelines in three countries, including Philippines, Ghana and Uruguay, in partnership with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

In the Philippines, the initiative is enabling constituents - Government, workers and employers’ organizations, and other key stakeholders – in leveraging the process of structural changes towards a sustainable, low carbon, climate-resilient economy to create decent jobs on a significant scale and in a sustained and inclusive manner.

This is in support of the recently passed Philippine Green Jobs Act and in the framework of the national goals as well as international commitments, such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the Philippines’ Nationally Determined Contributions to address climate change.

By sharing the Philippine experience and also learning from countries in Asia-Pacific through this dialogue, it is our hope that this will contribute to advancing the Just Transition agenda and strengthening collaboration.

Through the Just Transition initiative, you are assured of the ILO’s continued support as we pursue a greener and just future.

Thank you as I wish you a successful regional dialogue!