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Just transition

MENA region could create 10 million new jobs by 2050 through decarbonization and green industrial growth

The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) unveil at COP28 the first ever study on scenarios for strong industrial and climate development policies in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Press release | 03 December 2023
BEIRUT (ILO News) - First-of-its-kind research by the ILO and IsDB estimates that the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region could create 10 million new jobs, and accelerate GDP to 7.2 per cent and employment to 5.3 per cent in less than three decades, through strong industrial and climate development policies.

The report titled “The social and employment impacts of decarbonization and green industrial growth scenarios for the Middle East and North Africa region” was launched at COP28 in Dubai at the ILO’s Just Transition Pavilion*. It notes that achieving such results would require MENA countries to adopt strong industrial policies, link climate to development policies, and further invest in climate resilience, green water desalination, reforestation and waste management.

Such a resilience scenario would also rely on strong policies aiming to achieve a just transition towards a green economy in a way that is as fair and inclusive as possible to everyone concerned, creating decent work opportunities and leaving no one behind (a “just transition”). It would also rely on targeting investment in human capital, social protection and unskilled and low-income workers.

From right to left: Bradley Todd Hiller, Marek Harsdorff, Mohammad Al Maita, Eng. Mohammad Jamal Alsaati, H.E. Shayma Al Awadhi, Celeste Drake, Nathalie Bavitch, Peter Rademaker, El Sayed Torky. ©Leo Alfonso / ILO
Her Excellency Shayma Al Awadhi, Assistant Undersecretary for Communication and International Relations at the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE), said: “It is true that climate change and decarbonisation pose several challenges, as more environment-friendly and sustainable production and consumption practices will mean that some sectors will decline while others grow and transform. At the same time, the adoption of a comprehensive package of climate, economic, and social policy measures has the potential to increase economic prosperity, create more jobs, and increase employment rates.”

The UAE is taking significant steps toward decarbonisation with the UAE Net Zero by 2050 initiative, H.E. Al Awadhi noted, explaining that “a just transition means that we should make sure social justice and equality underpin the formulation and implementation of all economic and social policies related to the decarbonisation of the economy, including labour market and employment policies. Climate action goes hand in hand with the right labour market and social policies. Taking this into consideration, the UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation introduced multiple policies that aim to support the UAE towards a just transition – one that focuses on achieving ambitious climate action, but that creates jobs and provides income and economic growth for all, leaving no one behind.”

“Today, the world finds itself in the middle of an accelerating global energy transition. The MENA region has the potential to become a new leader in this transition. With strong industrial and just transition policies in place, significant welfare gains could be achieved as compared to a business-as-usual scenario,” said ILO Deputy Director-General Celeste Drake.

“The MENA region's natural advantages in renewable resources, such as solar and wind energy, and a young labour force provide a solid foundation for leading the green industrial revolution,” said ILO Deputy Regional Director for Arab States Peter Rademaker. “The MENA region stands at a critical juncture and must actively participate in the global energy transition to avoid welfare losses and secure a sustainable future, with increased opportunities for all, including marginalized groups,” Rademaker added.

Eng. Mohammad Jamal Alsaati, Special Advisor to His Excellency the President of the IsDB, said: “Yesterday, IsDB was proud to launch our Just Transition Conceptual Framework and Action Plan 2023-2025, which aims to support country-driven just, inclusive and fair transitions, leaving no-one behind. Today, we are pleased to launch this important study with our close partner, ILO, and hope that its findings can inform our just transition action plan and ongoing dialogues with our Member Countries.”

"We support our MENA Member Countries in defining their own Just Transition pathways and we hope that these study findings contribute to our ongoing country dialogues and to support evidence-based policymaking,” said Bradley Hiller, Lead Climate Change Specialist at IsDB. “We believe that Just Transitions should be just, fair, and inclusive, and leave no one behind," Hiller said.

Main report findings

The report, developed for the ILO and IsDB by Cambridge Econometrics, sets out the employment and socio-economic impacts of national and global climate policies in the MENA region. The scenarios include, firstly, a global net zero emissions scenario where countries in the MENA region remain passive by-standers in the energy transition and may face welfare losses in comparison to the current baseline. A second scenario sees MENA countries actively drive the global energy transition, significant gains in jobs and GDP may be achieved.

The third, ideal scenario that would lead to optimal labour market and socio-economic results, and could create 10 million new jobs and accelerate GDP to 7.2 per cent and employment to 5.3 per cent in less than three decades, would require strong industrial policies in the field of green hydrogen, solar power and electric mobility. These would be combined with just transition policies to enable upskilling, reskilling and skills training for young people in new low-carbon technologies. In addition, MENA countries would link climate to development policies, and further invest in climate resilience, green water desalination, reforestation and waste management. Such a resilience scenario would also rely on strong just transition policies targeting investment in human capital, social protection and unskilled and low-income workers.

The report, developed with funding from the ILO Partnership Department’s South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC) and internal ILO funding, included representatives from the ILO, IsDB and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as well as regional government, worker and employer representatives, in addition to development partner representatives.
 
For further information and to request interviews, please contact:
  • ILO Regional Communication Officer Salwa Kanaana, kanaana@ilo.org
  • IsDB Senior PR & External Communication Specialist Ahmad Abu Ghazaleh, AGhazaleh@isdb.org.
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* Launch of the report at COP28

Replay the event

Keynote speakers:
  • ILO Deputy Director-General Celeste Drake
  • Special Advisor to His Excellency President of IsDB on Decarbonization scenarios for the MENA region Eng. Mohammad Jamal Alsaati
Presentation of main findings of report:
  • ILO Green Jobs Programme Economist Marek Harsdorff
Panel discussion moderators:
  • ILO Green Jobs Programme Economist Marek Harsdorff
  • ILO Partnerships and UN Coherence Officer Nathalie Bavitch
  • IsDB Lead Climate Change Specialist Bradley Todd Hiller
Panelists:
  • Assistant Undersecretary for Communications and International Relations at the UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization H.E. Shayma Al Awadhi
  • European Commission Director-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (NEAR) Jan Koopman
  • El Sayed Torky, Federation of Egyptian Industries, representing IOE
  • Amman office coordinator of the Arab Trade Union Confederation Mohammad Al Maita
Closing remarks:
  • ILO Partnerships and UN Coherence Officer Nathalie Bavitch