The Green Revolution

Turning the challenges of greening workplaces and economies into opportunities

ILO Director-General statement for World Environment Day 2015.

By 2050 there will be 9.6 billion human beings in the world and on current trends of production and consumption, we would require the natural resources of three planet Earths to sustain us. Realizing the needs and dreams of people around the world for the future we want for ourselves and for the generations to come will require a massive transformation of our economies, and will also reshape the world of work.

Preserving the environment will be key to determining where the jobs that the world so urgently needs will come from, the quality of these jobs, and the role of work in the societies and economies of the future.

In the near to medium term, achieving economic growth with ever more efficient resource use and lower emissions will be essential. Industrialized countries will need to achieve a massive reduction in absolute levels of resource use and emissions. This can generate the investments and jobs that help the world break out of the resource-intensive growth model of the past. Developing countries for their part can seize a unique opportunity for social inclusion and the eradication of poverty by shifting to a greener growth path. Renewable energy, for example, is clearly the most cost-effective way to radically transform the lives of the 1.3 billion people in the world who have no access to electricity.

In the longer term, we need to make more profound changes if we are to meet the agreed objective of containing global warming to no more than 2°C. The earlier we shift, the more the transition can be what we choose and design, rather than what we are compelled to do. To be economically efficient and feasible, the transition also needs to be socially just.

The world of work has been a source of innovation and solutions to achieving environmental sustainability with social justice and inclusion. Management-labour cooperation in firms has reduced emissions by over two thirds while saving the enterprise money. Ministries of labour and social development have created jobs and massively expanded access to renewable energy through social housing and skill training programmes. Unemployment benefits and cash transfers to workers are being used as incentives to protect natural resources like fish and forests and use them in a sustainable way. In Germany, trade unions and employers’ organizations were at the origin of one of the largest building renovations programmes to boost energy efficiency and reduce emissions, triggering investment of over € 120 billion to date.

As we continue this great transformation towards a sustainable future for people and planet, the world of work will be right at its centre and so all its actors will need to engage fully. The ILO is ready to play its part.”

The NIOH has established a Green Committee to look into the way we can reduce our carbon footprint and find meaningful ways that we can work with industry, government departments and trade unions to ensure a sustainable future!