22 Apr 2016

Lieu: International Labour Organization

Organisation: Geneva Environment Network

Organized by the International Labour Organization and the Geneva Environment Network on the occasion of the celebration of the Earth Day 2016 and Paris Agreement signing ceremony.

About this Session

The Paris Agreement on climate change adopted by 195 countries highlights “the imperative of a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs in accordance with nationally defined development priorities”. The recognition that climate change and the promotion of job creation and social inclusion present interrelated challenges requiring coordinated responses places an important responsibility on the world of work to contribute to climate action in ways that promote both job creation and social justice.

This dialogue was convened as part of the Green Centenary Initiative on the occasion of Earth Day 2016, and coincided with the signing ceremony of the Paris Agreement. Its objective was to consider the implications of the Paris Agreement for the world of work and to discuss ways in which the ILO can support its constituents in the implementation of their commitments.


Opening remarks

Moussa OUMAROU, Acting Deputy Director-General for Policy, ILO
H.E. Amb. Elisabeth LAURIN, Permanent Representative of France (COP 21 Presidency)
Khalid ATLASSI, Minister Plenipotantiary, Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Morocco (COP22 Presidency)

Panel discussion  

H.E. Amb. Sammie EDDICO, Permanent Representative of Ghana to the United Nations in Geneva
Dongwen DUAN, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of China to the United Nations
Victor VAN VUUREN, Director, Enterprises Department, ILO
Anabella ROSEMBERG, Policy Officer Occupational Health & Environment, International Trade Union Confederation
Valérie SCHMITT, Chief, Social Policy, Governance and Standards Branch, Social Protection Department, ILO
Mito TSUKAMOTO, Senior Specialist, EMPINVEST, Employment Policy Department, ILO
Kees VAN DER REE, Coordinator, Green Jobs Programme, ILO

Facilitator: Moustapha Kamal GUEYE, Green Jobs Programme, ILO


Opening remarks by Moussa Oumarou, Acting Deputy Director-General for Policy of the ILO, reminded of how the ILO was strongly involved in the negotiation process leading up to – and at – the COP21 with various platforms for discussion organized and consultations with constituents undertaken on how to advance the climate change and decent work agendas in a mutually supportive manner.

Moussa Oumarou stressed that climate change is already having significant impacts on the world of work. For instance, rain-fed agriculture, which accounts for 90% of agricultural production in Africa, risks to drop by 50 % and about 25 million displaced peopled are recorded annually since 2008 due to natural disasters.

He emphasised how the transition to low-carbon economies offers great potential for job creation, such as the renewable energy section which employs around 8 million people, and improved job quality. However, this transition process will have to be socially just and inclusive as jobs with few options for sustainable production methods will be at risk of loss.

H.E. Ambassador Elisabeth Laurin of France recalled that the Paris Agreement adopted by 195 countries in December 2015 is a differentiated and ambitious one to achieve the objective of limiting global average temperature rise to 2 °C and move towards 1.5 °C.

The signing by countries of the Agreement will create national legal obligations for measureable and concrete action to stop greenhouse gas emissions and will enter into force 30 days after at least 55 countries, accounting for 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, have deposited their instruments for ratification.

An important element of the Paris Agreement is the recognition of “the imperative of a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs in accordance with nationally defined development priorities”.

Looking towards the COP22 in Marrakesh, Khalid Atlassi of Morocco, highlighted how issues remain around funding and the verification of the implementation of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) through a transparent and effective process.

H.E. Ambassador Sammie Eddico of Ghana mentioned that NDC will be an important vehicle towards poverty reduction and achieving social inclusion. He noted that Ghana’s national employment policy adopted in 2014 includes reference to green jobs and is one of the PAGE countries.

Dongwen Duan of China indicated that the 13th Five-Year Plan is addressing climate change. The government by 2020 aims to reduce carbon intensity and energy intensity by unit of GDP, 18% and 15% respectively, and create 25 million jobs in the environmental sector. He affirmed that 1.3 million workers will have to be relocated due to the transition to a low-carbon economy, notably by the closing of 4,300 coal mines and highlighted the importance of vocational training and skills development.

Vic Van Vuuren, Director of ILO Enterprises Department, said that enterprises are already playing a major role in investing in new technologies and in tapping into new markets for green goods and services as they realise that it makes business sense. He underlined how SMEs are key given that they account for two-thirds of all jobs worldwide. Yet, large enterprises and the greening of value chains are essential in the transition process. This year the International Labour Conference in June will have dedicated discussion on global supply chains.

Anabella Rosemberg of the ITUC called for strong policy coherence and indicated how just transitions will need to be planned at national and regional level and reminded of the importance of social dialogue.

Senior ILO specialists, Valérie Schmitt and Mito Tsukamoto, indicated how social protection schemes can be useful mechanisms in climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts and how green works can offer green jobs opportunities locally through infrastructure and related employment-intensive approaches.

Kees van der Ree, Coordinator of the ILO Green Jobs Programme, mentioned that the ILO has launched the Green Centenary Initiative  to significantly scale up the ILO’s office-wide knowledge, policy advice and tools for managing a just transition to a low carbon, sustainable future.

The objective of the Green Initiative is to better equip the actors of the world of work to understand the challenges and opportunities of the coming transition, and help them take up the active role they must play in managing this change.

In the following discussions, comments and questions were raised with respect to the role of transfer of technology, the importance of the issue of heat in the workplace, the implications of climate change for the future of work initiative at the ILO, and how the ILO should keep its engagement within the relevant bodies of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change with a focus on supporting implementation.

In closing, Moustapha Kamal Gueye from ILO Green Jobs Programme serving as facilitator, noted that the dialogue provided an opportunity for Geneva-based Permanent Missions to the United Nations and other organizations to express their needs and priorities from the perspective of countries, and for the ILO officials to provide an overview of what the ILO can offer in terms of tools, intervention models, successful practices and experiences to contribute both to climate action and the promotion of decent work and a just transition for all.