18th American Regional Meeting

Tripartite Meeting for consultations on Decent Work,Climate Change and Sustainable Development

Caribbean labour ministers, leading trade unionists and employers’ representatives all agreed that the accelerated impact of climate change is posing an immense risk to tourism, agriculture and fishing in the region

News | 13 October 2014
Lima, Peru (ILO News) - ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, opened the tripartite Meeting for consultations on ‘Decent Work, Climate Change and Sustainable Development’, a Caribbean and Latin American side-event at the ILO 18th American Regional Meeting in Lima, Peru.

Giovanni di Cola, Director, ILO DWT and Office for the Caribbean, right, addresses the MeetingGiovanni di Cola, Director, ILO DWT and Office for the Caribbean, right, addresses the Meeting
The Meeting, organized by the ILO’s Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean, brought together ministers and high-level government representatives from the Caribbean and Peru, employers’ and workers’ organizations, as well as UNEP, ECOSOC and the ILO, to reflect and exchange experiences on the topics of decent work and climate change in the region.

In his opening remarks, the ILO Director-General stated: "The ILO has already been supporting member States and constituents around the world, through our Green Jobs Programme, to analyse the impacts of climate change, and of other environmental constraints on our economies, enterprises and labour markets of the region, and to devise national policies and strategies."

Ryder stated the ILO had joined forces with other colleague sin the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) to create the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE).

PAGE, a response to the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), entitled ‘The Future We Want’, recognizes the green economy as a vehicle for sustainable development and poverty eradication. At today’s Meeting, the Caribbean labour ministers, leading trade unionists and employers’ representatives all agreed that the accelerated impact of climate change is posing an immense risk to tourism, agriculture and fishing in the region.

The Meeting in Lima follows the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Apia, Samoa in September. At the SIDS Conference, the “inclusive and equitable economic growth with decent work for all” was noted as a key objective in the face of the growing climate change threat.

The Hon. Barbados Labour Minister Esther Byer-Suckoo, centre, with other panelists at the ILO side-event on Decent Work, Climate Change and Sustainable Development
“In 1994 when we hosted the first SIDS (Small Island Developing States) meeting in Barbados, we thought we had about 50 years,”  Barbados Labour Minister Esther Byer-Suckoo told the tripartite consultation, “we are realising that we don’t have 50 years […] we are already seeing the effects.” Byer-Suckoo went on to state that increased coastal erosion and damage to coral reefs, will damage the tourism product and therefore tourism jobs, which the Caribbean is heavily reliant on.

“Climate change will make the poor, poorer […].  Both mitigation and adaptation are needed” stressed David Massiah, President of the Caribbean Congress of Labour (CCL). “The time is now to cooperate with the working people in the Caribbean” for the “deepening of human rights and combatting poverty through collective bargaining".

Wayne Chen, President of the Caribbean Employers' Confederation (CEC) acknowledged that “Green jobs are part of the solution, but not the whole solution [...]. To procrastinate, is to be flirting with disaster.”

The Hon. Errol McLeod, Minister of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise of Trinidad and Tobago expressed a need for Caribbean citizens to develop a deeper environmental consciousness for the sake of both the natural resources of the Caribbean and future generations.

Delegates from BelizeDelegates from Belize
Giovanni di Cola, Director, ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean, concluded the Meeting by calling for Caribbean member States to join the “Group of Friends on Decent Work for Sustainable Development” launched at the recent ILO-Ford Foundation event entitled "Employment and Decent Work for Inclusive and Sustainable Development" held in New York on 23 September 2014. This important new initiative was launched to highlight the critical importance of including decent work and social protection for all in the UN’s ambitious development post-2015 development agenda. He concluded that the ILO-supported Decent Work Agenda is the bridge between sustainable development goals and climate change.

For photos from today’s event – please visit facebook.com/ilo.caribbean

For further information:

Please contact
Dawn Lafond, ILO Office for the Caribbean lafond@ilo.org
Averlon Toussaint, ILO Office for the Caribbean toussaint@ilo.org
Tel: +(868) 627-6304; 623-7178; 623-7704; 625-0524
Fax:+(868) 627-8978