Green jobs

Making the case for a just transition in the Philippines: Message of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) at the regional dialogue on green growth for jobs and social inclusion: making the case for a just transition in Asia

By Assistant Secretary Alex Avila, on behalf of Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) at the regional dialogue on green growth for jobs and social inclusion: making the case for a just transition in Asia

Declaración | Manila, Philippines | 25 de septiembre de 2017
A pleasant afternoon to everyone and a warm welcome to our foreign participants and guests.

On behalf of the Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III, I wish to convey my warmest greetings to all resource persons and participants in the regional dialogue on how just transition can be harnessed to make green growth for jobs and social inclusion in Asia possible and sustainable. The DOLE fully supports the just transition initiative and will continue to engage and collaborate, mainly through the Just Transition Tripartite Advisory Committee, with our social partners and other stakeholders in the public and private sectors, including the ILO, to ensure that the pilot application of the policy guidelines for a just transition in the Philippines will produce the desired results.

My task this morning is to make the case for a just transition in the Philippines. I would say it is not difficult for us to make the case for a just transition in the country because it is part of our development and policy agenda. The policy guidelines for a just transition to environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all resonate well with our 8-Point Labor and Employment Agenda 2016-2022, in particular with agenda 3, which speaks of ensuring full respect of labour standards and the fundamental principles and rights at work, with agenda 5, which seeks to bring more focus and accessibility in workers’ protection and welfare programmes, and agenda 8, which aims to maintain responsive, enabling, and equitable labour policies, laws and regulations through effective labour and employers’ participation in policy- and decision-making processes affecting them.

The issue of decent work and green job creation amid climate change and environmental sustainability necessarily intertwines with issues pertaining to rights at work, social protection, social dialogue, and institutional arrangements. This becomes all the more valid if we frame just transition for all as one which “implies that responses to climate change and environmental sustainability should maximize opportunities for decent work creation and ensure social justice, rights and social protection for all leaving no one behind.” Certainly, there can be no decent work without rights at work; there can be no decent work without social protection; and there can be no decent work without social dialogue and social partnership.

For the Just Transition Project, we have put forward the Green Jobs Act of 2016 to demonstrate that the government could enact policies that are attuned to the needs of the times. And the need of our time is to facilitate the creation of jobs that help protect our environment and promote ecological integrity. Modern-day challenges require modern-day solutions and approaches. We need policy 4.0 – not policy 1.0 – to respond to challenge 4.0. And we hope that partly through the Green Jobs law, the Philippine government has somehow succeeded to keep up with policy demand of the time, and that we can effectively respond to the continuing challenges of ensuring ecological integrity, clean and healthy environment, and sustainable development (Chapter 20 of the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022).

Following conventions the law defines green jobs as employment that contributes to preserving or restoring the quality of the environment, be it in agriculture, industry or services sector. In other words, green jobs, specifically, but not exclusively, include jobs that help to protect ecosystems and biodiversity, reduce energy, materials and water consumption through high efficiency strategies, decarbonize the economy and minimize or altogether avoid generation of all forms of waste and pollution. But the law went further as to qualify that green jobs are decent jobs that are productive, respect the rights of workers, deliver a fair income, provide security in the workplace and social protection for families, and promote social dialogue.

We are privileged to chair the Tripartite Project Advisory Committee of this pilot project. We recognize its strategic importance in advancing efforts to promote decent work and productive employment amid the challenges of climate change. Since its inception, the tripartite committee, together with the ILO, has done a lot to bring to fore the urgency of adopting and implementing just transition actions not only to protect those that may be affected negatively, but also to leverage the process of structural change towards a sustainable, low-carbon and climate resilient pathway to create decent jobs.

For this pilot project, we are focusing on the mining sector which has been under intense public scrutiny due to multi-dimensional reasons. Since the mining sector seems to showcase what is right and wrong with the politics and economics of development, it is a perfect choice for applying the policy guidelines for just transition. It is also an ideal laboratory for just transition given its employment content, both formal and informal, the extent of its unionization and social dialogue, bot at the local and national levels, the presence of an organized employers’ group at least for big mining companies, and the need to address the issue of occupational safety and health among mine workers, especially among those engaged in the so-called “minahangbayan” which usually operate outside the ambit of the usual no established rules and standards. The DOLE has no doubt that with our shared resolve to address these issues through the Just Transition project, we can help the mining sector truly a positive force for development of the country.

On this note, I wish to covey the DOLE’s appreciation to the ILO and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency for including the Philippines among the three pilot countries for this commendable initiative. We are truly inspired to share with you our experience, although still in its formative stage, in promoting green jobs in the country through our policy initiatives. This regional dialogue gives us distinct opportunity to learn from our neighbours in the region and expand our perspective on green growth through the insights of our resource persons who are experts in this field. Indeed, each one of us has a lot to offer and a lot to learn from one another, in the process helping make our world a better place than we found it. And in this exchange of ideas and experiences, each one of us continues to evolve as agents of change and transformation not only for our respective organizations and institutions, but also and more importantly, for our planet.

Thank you for your attention.