Just transition

Message at the Parallel Session on Adaptation, Technology and Green Jobs 6th Asia Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum with the theme “Enabling Resilience for All: Avoiding the Worst Impacts”

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the Parallel Session on Adaptation, Technology and Green Jobs 6th Asia Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum , Mandaluyong, Philippines, 18 October 2018

Declaración | Mandaluyong, Philippines | 18 de octubre de 2018
Good morning! The ILO is honoured to be part of this parallel session of the Asia Pacific Climate Change.

There is an inherent link between the world of work and the environment. Climate change is a result of human activity, which for most part is work-related.

The ILO has identified the following climate and environmental risks:
  • All jobs and businesses, directly and indirectly, depend on a healthy environment and the services it provides. There about 1.2 billion jobs that rely directly on the effective management and sustainability of a healthy environment.
  • Impacts of climate change and environmental degradation continue to threaten income and food security, labour productivity, workers’ health, and overall working conditions. A recent ILO study showed that climate-related disasters have resulted in the global loss of 23 million working-life years annually. This is mainly due to mortality, injury or damaged to business assets. Across all regions, Asia and the Pacific suffered the greatest, with an annual average loss of 536 working-life years.
  • Projected temperature rise will increase the number of days that are too hot to work, making heat stress more common, putting workers’ health at risk, and further reducing productivity.
We no longer have to choose between creating jobs for people and preserving the environment. The world of work plays a key role to address climate change and environmental degradation.

There is huge potential for green jobs. According to the ILO’s 2018 World Employment and Social Outlook on Greening with Jobs, 24 million new jobs can be created globally by 2030. This could result in sufficient job creation to more than offset job losses of 6 million elsewhere.

The shift to sustainable energy can create around 18 million more jobs globally. Employment creation is driven by the higher labour demand of renewable energy sources and the employment demand of the entire value chain associated with renewable energy development, electric vehicles and construction.

Adoption of circular economy to reduce material extraction and waste generation may also create around 6 million new employment opportunities across the world.

Shift to more sustainable agricultural policies can create wage employment in medium and large farms. Smallholders will be able to diversify their sources of income through a transition to conservation agriculture.

Adaptation measures have huge potential for creating green jobs, including direct, indirect and induced employment.
  • Investment in adaptation infrastructure can create increased demand for construction work in projects to reduce climate-related risks.
  • Three out of four jobs worldwide are heavily or moderately dependent on water. Investment in the infrastructure required for the conservation, treatment and supply of water, can increase both the number and quality of jobs across the economy.
  •  Reforestation and afforestation can further create jobs and economic value
Environmental sustainability can be pursued while creating decent jobs. Now how can we generate and sustain green jobs across sectors?

First: Skills needed for a green economy have to be identified and developed urgently, involving key industries and sectors, with employers and workers representation.
  • Job creation potential is not automatic, especially if the workforce does not have appropriate skills. It requires strengthening education and training institutions to be more responsive and to effectively deliver, alongside stronger policy coherence that anticipate labour market impact of environmental and climate policies.
  • Retraining and upskilling opportunities should be made accessible to all and prioritize training for vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, including those at risk due to transition. There should be focus on the development of portable or soft skills to encourage occupational mobility.
  • Strengthening industry’s role in strategizing and identifying skills demands while allowing them to become a critical player is vital. It is equally important to prepare the skills system to meet the needs of vulnerable workers, including women, they youth and the informal economy, by improving access, delivery and design as well as complementation to other enabling strategies.
Second: More sustainable investments on social protection are needed given that the restructuring could result to jobs being created, shifted, eliminated and transformed in the process. Impact will be greater for vulnerable groups and low-skilled workers.
  • Social protection mechanisms, such as unemployment protection, cash transfer programmes, public employment programmes and payments for ecosystem services are vital in providing protection against the negative effects on income, including those resulting from climate change and temporary job losses.
  • The challenge that lies ahead is not just about creating more jobs, but also ensuring no one is left behind through universal social protection to close coverage gaps and adapt to new contexts.
  • Re-designing social protection systems to make it innovative is important to provide income security in the transition between jobs. We need coherent policies and actions for a just transition towards decent job creation, social inclusion, and poverty reduction. Millions of jobs can be created in sectors like agriculture, forestry, energy, recycling, construction, and transport. We need to however avert impacts of climate change and protect those who will be affected.
Third: Incentives and market interventions for enterprises, while harnessing their capacity to mitigate adverse impacts of climate change and abate further environmental degradation, while promoting decent work will ensure a just transition.
  • The Green Jobs Act has been enacted to support needed transformation. With this law, decent work and human capital development is made central in promoting environmentally sustainable growth and in building climate resilience. It is a pioneering approach, which reinforces the linkages between environmental, economic and social/labour issues.
  • Incentives and market interventions are important as a key feature of the Green Jobs law that would directly contribute to generating and sustaining green jobs, in agriculture, industry and services sectors. The Climate Change Commission plays a lead role in this aspect. We also see incentives as an opportunity to promote stronger compliance to environmental and labour policies.
  • There is huge potential for green jobs in key enterprises and sectors such as sustainable energy, construction, tourism, waste management, agriculture, and transportation although there may be possible decline in sectors that are traditionally extractive, resource-intensive, and polluting, especially as the country fully implements its Nationally Determined Contribution. While the country has made significant progress, much is still needed to be done to realize an accelerated and sustained transition that results to scaled-up green jobs creation. It requires more focused investment on just transition measures.
Finally, jobs being created in a green economy should be productive, respect the rights of workers, deliver a fair income, provide security in the workplace and social protection for families, and promote social dialogue. The ILO will mark its Centenary or 100 years in 2019 and social dialogue is a vital element.

Indeed, the involvement of government, workers and employers is key in the process of implementing the Green Jobs law and ensuring a just transition. Coordinated social, economic and environmental policies, strong labour market institutions and social dialogue are needed more than ever for a greener, sustainable future through just transition and decent work.

Just transition measures have to be pursued for the Philippines to take full advantage of the opportunities that the greening of the economy can offer, while ensuring that no one is left behind through decent work for all.

Thank you!