51st Human Rights Council Reports

Panel Discussion on the Right to Work


  September 27th, 2022: Panel Discussion on the Future of the right to work in connection with climate change actions, responses and impacts in the context of sustainable and inclusive economies

Vice-President of the Human Rights Council, H.E Mrs. Katharina Stasch, opened the 24th meeting of the 51st session of Human Rights Council regarding the future of the right to work in connection with climate change actions, responses and impact in the context of sustainable and inclusive economies on the 27th of September 2022.

Opening Remarks

Ms. Nada Al-Nashif, Acting United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, began her statement by stating that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on people's health, lives and the enjoyment of fundamental human rights, including the right to decent work. Ms. Nada Al-Nashif continued her statement by highlighting that access to health care, work, education, housing and other essential services, already inadequate prior to the pandemic, have been seriously compromised. Pre-existing gaps in social protection and inadequate benefits have contributed to exacerbating deep-seated inequalities, with informal workers, most of them women, often excluded from protection. In addition to that, the ongoing climate crisis, an existential threat for all, compounded by the unprecedented recession caused by the pandemic, calls for urgent action to transition towards green, sustainable and inclusive economies that will transform the world of work. Indeed, according to Ms. Nada Al-Nashif, States' measures to protect the environment and the climate would create new jobs in clean and renewable energy, such as wind and solar energy production, while eliminating others, for example those in the coal, gas and oil industries. However, the transition towards green economies is challenging. Protecting workers from unemployment during this transition remains very important. Investing in public sectors and uplifting marginalized people become an urgent priority in resolving thisissue. In this context, Ms. Nada Al-Nashif mentioned education as the game-changer in achieving decent work for all. More precisely, she highlighted that States need to invest more decisively in people's right to education, including in life-long learning. Indeed, people need to scale up solutions for experimental and practical learning; develop inclusive vocational training based on labour market demand, with an emphasis on climate responsive technologies; and establish public-private sector partnerships for apprenticeship. In addition to that, Ms. Nada Al-Nashif argued that Guaranteeing women's rights and ensuring their meaningful participation is therefore key to the accomplishment of a sustainable transition and to a just future of work. Also, transitioning away from extractive practices and fossil fuel economies would provide an opportunity to invest in the care sector, an area where many women work informally with precarious employment status and no access to social insurance benefits. This would offer an effective way to uphold women's right to safe and fair conditions of work, shift focus towards collective wellbeing and strengthen economies without increasing emissions. Furthermore, Ms. Nada Al-Nashif called on States to use their maximum available resources to ring-fence budgets, to ensure the right to social protection and access to essential services that will help to minimize the impact of job losses generated by climate action. At the end of her speech, Ms. Nada Al-Nashif called states to use the recovery from COVID-19 as an opportunity to build back better, to combat climate change and protect workers and communities through policies and measures anchored in human rights. She therefore encourages States to share challenges, experiences and promising practices in strengthening the protection of the right to work in the transition towards a green economy.

H.E. Mr. Ahmed Ihab Abdelahad Gamaleldin, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Egypt began his statement by introducing the resolution on the right to work on the 49th session along with Greece, Indonesia, Mexico and Romania which requested organizing the daily panel. He continued by saying that the right to work is not only essential for realizing other human rights but also an inseparable and inherent part of human dignity and social justice, and essential to achieve the sustainable development goals of the 2030 Agenda with its three dimensions, which are interrelated, of equal importance and must be addressed together at the same time. In the meantime, climate change poses an existential threat for all and it is the challenge of our times, and the international community is hence called upon to meet this

challenge collectively, effectively and rapidly. Regarding that, Mr. Ahmed Ihab Abdelahad agreed on the idea that a just transition might maximize the social and economic opportunities of climate action, while minimizing and carefully managing any challenges. In this context, he supported that the transition to environmentally sustainable economies should be associated with some major challenges including:

● The impacts of any economic restructuring, which result in displacement of workers and possible job losses and job creation attributable to the greening of enterprises and workplaces;

● The adaptation needs, both enterprises and workplaces, to climate change to avoid loss of assets and livelihoods; and

● The adverse effects on incomes of poor households from higher energy and commodity prices.

To continue, H.E. Mr. Ahmed Ihab Abdelahad Gamaleldin argued that a just transition needs to be prioritized by countries and businesses around the globe right away, as a matter of urgency. Henceforth, he called all parties to demonstrate the necessary political will to fortify resilience building, adaptation action and social protection programs and assist the people in the most vulnerable situations and frontline communities.

Panel Discussion

Ian Fry, Special Rapporteur for the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change supported the fact that Climate change complicates the right to work and forces many workers to quit, especially in agriculture. During his speech, he took the case of Bangladesh but also generalized his approach to the whole globe. He explained that from droughts, to floods, storm surges, and river erosion, farmers are forced to leave their land and also the conventional job patterns suit. As he argued, this also can be applied to women. Indeed, Climate change may prevent women from leaving their land. This puts a huge load on these women, who must work climate-changed agricultural fields, pay rent for the land they utilize, feed and clothe their children, and supply school supplies. Women sometimes have to trek far for water. They risk sexual harassment and assault. School-age children are compelled to leave home and work in low-wage urban jobs. Exploitation and trafficking are high risks. Despite these huge obstacles, some civil society organizations are helping climate change-affected populations reconstruct their lives and find safer jobs. In Bangladesh, civil society organizations are testing above-ground vegetable growing, salt-resilient food crops, and rainfall capture methods to increase freshwater access. Although global adaptation funding is scarce, there are many more examples. He continued saying that it is commonly known that fossil fuel workers are being transitioned to green and decent jobs. This field has mostly studied wealthy nations. For example Germany has a Growth Commission, Scotland a Just Transition Commission, and the EU a Just Transition Mechanism. Despite these efforts, the fossil fuel business receives significant tax breaks. Moreover, He continued saying that Just transition measures have been neglected in emerging nations. Developing nations must provide energy justice to their citizens while meeting their Paris Agreement obligations through self-sufficiency and renewable energy. Many developing countries, especially LDCs, lack the technology to transition to a renewable energy economy and offer safety nets for fossil fuel workers who may be forced to leave. Upskilling can help workers find new jobs, especially in renewable energy. Corporate commitments in impoverished countries are few, and governments have little fiscal flexibility to support such measures. At the end of his speech, the Special Rapporteur stated that climate change is hurting many developing nations' economies. This impacts millions of workers' rights. Climate change is not their fault. The main greenhouse gas emitters are accountable. Polluters should pay for the harm they cause poorer nations. Climate change has left too many people poor and denied their human rights. They lack future safety nets. The international community, especially big greenhouse gas emitters, must support people least able to find alternative work due to the impacts of major polluters. To address these challenges, a Loss and Damage Fund must be established immediately.

Mr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, United Nations Special Envoy on Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP27 began by stating that having climate action should be also to consider the SDGs. More, he continued by saying that a just transition to low emissions and climate resilience economic model means ensuring that global and local climate action protects the planet, the people, and the economy. Indeed as he stated, the phasing-in of low emission technologies and phasing-down of high emission ones must meet the rights and needs of all those impacted by such transition, including their right to work. From that, a need to achieve more progress on addressing the vulnerability of labor markets in carbon-intensive sectors facing transition risks is imperative. Also, People' jobs and well-being should be at the center of the transition. Ensuring that all workforces find secure pathways in these sectoral redeployments is a key element of a successful just transition. Mr. Mahmoud Mohieldin argued the need to move from pledging to climate action at COP27 through translating agreements and pledges into concrete initiatives, including through scaling up climate projects. The latter create new jobs. He continued by stating his fully awareness about the fact that some sectors and communities might experience direct job losses due to the transition to low-carbon economies, on aggregate more jobs could be created by the development of green sectors. He proposed that initiatives at the regional and local levels shall help to prove the above mentioned argument. He proposed that initiatives at the regional and local levels shall help to prove the above mentioned argument. He stated that Both the regional and local initiatives he just shed the light on indicate that there are promising prospects that adaptation to climate change and measures to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can offer opportunities to create new jobs, through projectizing climate action. Then, the shift to a resilient, low-carbon economy can and should be a net driver of job creation. There will be transitional challenges, however, for workers, communities and countries as this shift occurs. Thus, the full range of environmental, social and governance dimensions of responsible investment need to be incorporated in the strategies to address the negative impacts of climate change. Moreover, he continued by mentioning that the just transition provides the framework for connecting climate action with the need for an inclusive economy and sustainable development. He stated that Both the regional and local initiatives he just shed the light on indicate that there are promising prospects that adaptation to climate change and measures to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can offer opportunities to create new jobs, through projectizing climate action. The shift to a resilient, low-carbon economy can and should be a net driver of job creation. There will be transitional challenges, however, for workers, communities and countries as this shift occurs. Thus, the full range of environmental, social and governance dimensions of responsible investment need to be incorporated in the strategies to address the negative impacts of climate change. Moreover, he continued by mentioning that the just transition provides the framework for connecting climate action with the need for an inclusive economy and sustainable development. He argued that he remains implicated in the mobilization of non-state actors' efforts to address transitional challenges encountered for workers and vulnerable communities, with a view to connect their action on climate change with inclusive development pathways. Mr. Mahmoud Mohieldin ended with the fact that he hopes different actors present will work together to identify and address relevant challenges and opportunities to just transition while protecting the right to work in the context of sustainable development.

Mr Vic van Vuuren, Acting Deputy Director-General for Policy and Director Enterprises Department, International Labour Organization Began by stating that the climate crisis is already having profoundly disruptive impacts on people and their livelihoods. It is endangering the enjoyment of a host of rights, with particularly severe implications for the right to work. Also, the right to work is a human right and is at the heart of the ILO's mandate of promoting decent work for all and its mission of advancing social justice. Work is central to the existence of every individual human being as well as to the cohesion of the societies and the functioning of economies. He mentioned the need to make work of addressing the challenges posed by climate change. It is an integral part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, notably through Goal 8 which calls for the promotion of sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work. According to the ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work adopted in 2019, the world of work is at a time of transformative change and it calls for ensuring a just transition to a future of work that contributes to sustainable development. Climate change for instance has a wide range of impacts on the world of work and the right to work itself and emerges as one of the greatest threats to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Meanwhile, some measures aimed towards achieving climate mitigation or adaptation may result in unintended consequences, such as job losses. However, as Mr Vic van Vuuren stated, the job losses caused by the impacts of climate change far exceed those linked to ecological transition policies. And, in fact, those transition policies come with huge job creation opportunities. He provides stats according to which 24 million new jobs could be created by 2030 if the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change is implemented (ILO). In other words, it is not action against climate change, but rather inaction that will destroy jobs and livelihoods at scale. However, the scale and difficulty of the structural transformations required should not be underestimated. Among the challenges is the uneven geographic distribution of job creation and job losses. For example, the province of Mpumalanga in eastern South Africa accounts for approximately 80% of total coal production and is central to the country's decarbonization plans. However, most jobs in renewable energy and related employment are in the Northern Cape region. According to Mr. Vic Van Vuuren, that is why the notion of a just transition is fundamental to a successful ecological transition. This is also why measures are needed to manage the negative social and job outcomes of climate policies but also maximizing positive ones. Moreover, a transition to a green economy does not automatically result in inclusive and equitable outcomes, and sometimes risks exacerbating existing inequalities, particularly for women, persons with disabilities, indigenous and tribal peoples, or migrant workers. However, it is already encouraging to note that renewable energy employs approximately 32% of women, compared with 22% in the energy sector as a whole. All these complexities mean that aligned comprehensive and coherent policy frameworks are needed. It also means addressing inequalities and empowering key agents of change. Ensuring a just transition for all and promoting and protecting human and labor rights are vital. A transition to a low-carbon economy, if done "justly", provides opportunities for the right to work and the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment to be realized together, and would secure decent work for all. As a conclusion, Mr. Vic Van Vuuren argued that protecting the right to work in connection to climate change requires addressing the employment and social dimensions of climate change and related actions. He ended by reiterating the wish of the ILO to continue collaboration with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Human Rights Council to protect the right to work in connection to climate change.

Ms. Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation stated that Working people were affected as never before, particularly those countries that had no resilience, no social protection, no guarantee of jobs and decent work. But the world actually also faced, in parallel to that economic crisis and the social implications, faced the climate emergency. He continued by arguing that there is no greater crisis than that created by human misuse of fossil fuels by driving greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. But it's not a crisis for the planet. It's a crisis for people. And the existential threat to humanity cannot be denied. Ms. Burrow called everybody to focus on the crisis that is destroying the optimism, the opportunity, the trust of people everywhere. Deeply in her analysis, she explained that the rise of hyper globalization made the world much wealthier. But for people, working people and labor income share went down like a rollercoaster, while profits and productivity are up, particularly for the very wealthy multinationals. Regarding that, according to Ms. Burrow's view, the climate emergency requires financing for developing countries, for those who didn't create this emergency, but who have been suffering from the impacts, where the impact is indeed so much stronger and more devastating because of a lack of resources to deal with the impact on individuals. To continue, because working people are suffering everywhere, even in developed countries, she called for a major reform in order to build a just and sustainable future. Moreover Ms. Sharan Burrow expressed her displeasure on the fact that essential workers such as nurses who helped us to be able to isolate safely are not only low paid, but indeed they had very little health and safety protection. And yet, at the same time new pharmaceutical companies make billions of dollars for themselves out of such a global crisis, then that's simply immoral. Moreover, according to Ms. Burrow, the escalation of conflicts around the world are mostly due to the fact that people are feeling a sense of desperation, of anger, of despair, of a lack of trust in governments and indeed in democracies. We have She called actors to share the solutions, the technology, the finance, indeed, for both mitigation and adaptation everywhere. But she also called actors to know that just transition means that people have a right to design their own future. She continued by saying that we must stay the course to see security and just energy transition with renewable energy, even as we provide increased production at this point in time to deal with the emergency of the energy deficit, particularly in Europe. But if we don't actually invest in jobs, if we don't invest in a global social protection fund to kick start and guarantee universal social protection, if we don't care about each other, if we don't put this world on the future of human rights, labor rights and environmental standards as a base for fair competition and development, then we will not deal with any one of those crises, and we will continue to race into a future where our very existence is threatened. She ended by reiterating that for working people: Just transition, the social contract with jobs, jobs and jobs, climate-friendly jobs with just transition, just wages, universal social protection, equality of gender and race and inclusion, realizing the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement. These are her demands for a seriously dignified future where stability is created through common security, where people feel that they have the dignity of decent work and the security of social protection.

Council Members, Observer States and other Observers

The Kingdom of Bhutan expressed concern about climate change which has an adverse impact on the full and effective enjoyment of human rights including the right to work. Indeed, those who have contributed the least to climate change disproportionately suffer from its adverse impacts. Bhutan expressed its difficulty to deal with the multiple threats from climate change including the extreme weather events that affect the lives and livelihood of their people. The kingdom stated that its energy sources are met from clean renewable energy sources such as hydropower. For instance, environmental conservation is very crucial for them. Bhutan called for International cooperation and solidarity under international frameworks. According to the representative of Bhutan, the recovery efforts from the pandemic represent a crucial opportunity to design human rights-based policies and measures for adequate social protection, creation of green jobs, and capacity building for a just transition as reaffirmed in the Paris Agreement.

Costa Rica agreed on the fact that the effects of climate change negatively impact working conditions and livelihoods of millions of people. Regarding that, Costa Rica has shown that efforts towards a more environmentally sustainable and decarbonized economy are fully compatible with the full exercise of the right to work. The country believes that this sustainability opens the door to innovative job opportunities, and most importantly, that it guarantees a fairer and more equitable world. The representative of costa Rica called for progress along the path of the just transition towards a green economy, in accordance with the 2019 ILO Centenary Declaration, with ambitious mitigation and adaptation actions always guided by a human rights and gender approach with you look towards the fair labor inclusion of women avoiding leaving them out of the new economic model. Indeed, as the ILO indicated in its report on the future of work in a changing natural environment, sustainability does not threaten work. We must act together to protect workers and communities from the impacts of climate change, and in this way guarantee the full enjoyment of their human rights, including the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. Costa Rica ended by asking panelists how can be ensure the inclusion of those working in the informal sector in the just transition to a green economy in accordance with the SDGs?

Cuba (Lack of speaking time) Began by stating that the irrational and unsustainable patterns of consumption and production of Capitalism have placed humanity before an environmental challenge that threatens its very existence: climate change. The representative of Cuba stated that Cuba as a small island state, has been highly vulnerable to the effects of natural phenomena such as droughts and tropical cyclones. Indeed, these situations pose challenges in the promotion and protection of human rights, including the right to work. Cuba explained that due to its social policy even in the context of natural disasters, no worker is left unprotected, nor are their labor guarantees violated. Cuba guarantees the right to employment of populations that have been resettled from vulnerable coastal settlements. It also seeks solutions for the adaptation of agricultural activities impacted by this phenomenon, which constitute the main means of livelihood of the Cuban peasantry. However, Cuba's representative reiterated that confronting climate change demands a renewed commitment from all States, but especially from developed countries, who are primarily responsible for providing financial and additional resources that allow developing countries to implement their mitigation and adaptation actions.

Ecuador representatives started by thanking the panelists of this round table, organized in accordance with resolution 49/11 on the Right to Work, which Ecuador co-sponsored. The delegation continued by expressing the fact that despite the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the transition to a sustainable and inclusive economy, with the proper use of technological advances is an opportunity for States to build an inclusive, accessible and sustainable world of work. The delegation continued by stating that Ecuador has been a pioneer in the region by implementing a multi-sectoral coordination body that defines policies for the creation of green jobs and support from the labor sphere for the transition to an economy with zero net emissions. The Green Jobs Coordination Committee brings together various government agencies involved in the matter, in order to identify sectors of interest, demand for skills, occupational profiles, training opportunities and complementary measures to promote the transition process. At the end of the speech, the delegation of Ecuador stated that this initiative from Ecuador, which has the support of the Inter-American Development Bank and the French Development Agency, is an example of good practice to promote employment in green sectors for the inclusive recovery of the economy after the pandemic.

The European Union began the statement by pronouncing itself as a global leader in the fight against climate change. In December 2019, the EU launched a European Green Deal to transition to a fairer, healthier and more prosperous society, whilst guaranteeing a healthy planet for future generations. At the same time, the EU's delegation assumed striving for environmental policies and actions that have human rights at their center and kept advocating for human rights-based climate action. The EU also argued that the adverse impact of climate impact on the full and effective enjoyment of human rights, including on the enjoyment of the right to work, disproportionately affects women and girls, youth and older persons, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, those living in conflict areas and those in the most vulnerable situations. Moreover, workers in agriculture and forestry are highly exposed to the impact of rising global temperatures. Changing rainfall patterns and extreme weather events disrupt farming cycles and seriously affect the income of farmers and their families. Regarding that, The Common Agricultural Policy and the European Green Deal's Just Transition Mechanism sets out to ensure that farmers can adapt to climate uncertainty and mitigate climate change. The EU's representative ended the speech by stating that the right to work and climate change are inextricably interconnected. Then, Combating climate change and environmental degradation contributes to ensuring a healthier world where we can all work safely and with dignity.

Germany (didn't speak due to lack of time) aligned with the EU statement. The German Government and business sector are strongly committed to be leading partners in a fair and sustainable globalization. Germany encouraged more countries to step up their action to protect human rights and the environment along global value chains. Germany called for an analytical report of the High Commissioner on the future of the right to work in connection with climate change actions.

Honduras started by agreeing that the world of work has been deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. To continue, the delegation stated that the economic and social challenges the world faces are enormous, added to the climate vulnerability. According to the delegation, Honduras is one of the countries most affected by the effects of climate change and in addition to the coronavirus pandemic, the country suffered in 2020 the onslaught of two hurricanes, which considerably affected various economic sectors, including agriculture. Honduras urgently called for global climate action, which promotes integrated measures to prevent and mitigate the effects of climate change, aimed at protecting the future of humanity. In this context, Honduras considered that the recovery from COVID-19 represents a crucial opportunity to design policies and measures based on human rights that guarantee the economic, social and environmental well-being of citizens. Honduras once called on the seizure of this opportunity to build back better and in harmony with the planet.

The delegation of Iraq emphasized the need to protect human rights in the context of climate change since environmental degradation and water scarcity lead to the violation of a wide range of human rights. fundamental human rights, including the right to work. Moreover, due to climate change, many communities that live from agriculture and livestock have been forced to leave their land, and in some other cases exposing them to health concerns. Faced with this, Iraq agrees with the idea that the international community should work in a spirit of cooperation and provide technical assistance to least-developed countries and small countries that lack the necessary resources to implement plans for adaptation, action programs, and effective strategies to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement aimed at mitigating and reducing the negative impact of climate change on current and future generations. In conclusion, the representative of Iraq asked the panelists about the impact of large-scale projects that are built on transboundary rivers on water scarcity and its effects on the enjoyment of human rights in the countries downstream.

Libya recognized the climatic change as a threat and insisted on the need to continue working on the creation of legislation relating to climate change and its impact on work, and on how to protect workers. The representative of Libya affirmed that countries in conflict are among the most vulnerable to damage from the climate change crisis due to their limited ability to adapt. Thus, the representative of Libya affirmed that it is necessary to intensify the work on the institutions, the basic services, the infrastructures, and the governance, which are essential elements to contain the crises in the countries in conflicts. . To address and adapt to climate change, Libya hopes that the United Nations and its international partners will work to activate international cooperation to increase support and funding in this area.

The Republic of Lithuania, on behalf of Nordic-Baltic countries thanked the panelists for their insights on these issues and especially the ILO for comprehensive information and reports that highlight the urgency to reform and transit to green, sustainable and inclusive economies. To continue they agreed on the fact that a Special emphasis must be placed on promoting decent work for those most affected by climate change– women, indigenous peoples and communities in rural areas. According to the delegation, an adaptation to new reality should start immediately in order to minimize the negative consequences and ensure the right to work. The Nordic-Baltic countries claimed that they ensure access to adequate social protection, decent work, education and training opportunities for all through national programmes. Indeed, for the delegation it is particularly important to ensure the inclusion of women, as they often have less access to resources and tend to work in informal settings. The Nordic-Baltic countries' delegation ended by asking the panelists how can we improve the inclusion of women in decision-making processes?

Malawi (didn't speak due to lack of time) keenly welcomes the discussion on the right to work in connection with climate change actions. Malawi has been heavily affected by the adverse consequences of climate change. Indeed, this coupled with the covid pandemic has derailed Malawi's quest to create jobs and raise a resilient, inclusive and sustainable economy. It has become imperative to find solutions to increase the scope of the main economic driver which is agriculture. Renewable energy solutions for electricity generation, as well as irrigation are being prioritized. According to the representative, Malawi has introduced a carbon tax fund for environment and climate change financing. We look forward to engaging others of like mind to invest with us in the rolling out of these initiates as we also look forward to our participation at COP27.

Malaysia appreciates the valuable insights of the panelists and aligned itself with the statement of ASEAN. Malaysia argued that rebuilding lives and economies after the pandemic, must align both efforts to strengthen the right to work with climate change actions. Indeed, people's health and work have been profoundly impacted by both COVID-19 pandemic and climate changes, Malaysia argued that rebuilding lives and economies after the pandemic. Moreover, they destroy jobs, force people to migrate and slow down economic activity, particularly for developing and smaller economies. Regarding that, Malaysia wished to underline that addressing climate change to provide the right to work can only be dealt with by strong international cooperation. Therefore, Malaysia urged developed countries to fulfill their obligations as stipulated under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR). Against the uncertainty and widening geopolitical rift due to inequalities and conflicts, Malaysia would like to seek views from the panelists on what else can the Council do to better strengthen international cooperation in addressing the important issue of climate change while upholding people's right to work?

Maldives agreed on the fact that it is important to use the post pandemic phase to enable sustainable economic opportunities, including green jobs that can foster diversification and resilience of SIDS. To continue, the representative of Maldives argued on the importance of investing in renewable energy and increasing the share of renewables in the energy sector are key priorities of the government. Maldives believes that this transformation will not only enable us to move away from fossil fuels to achieve our Net-Zero emissions target by 2030, but will also increase institutional capacity, green technology and decent jobs that preserve and restore the environment. To successfully achieve this transformation and create sustainable and inclusive growth, Maldives called on the importance of the support and assistance of the international community. To end with, the representative of Maldives stressed on the importance of a gender perspective in the discussion and would like to ask the panel, what are the steps that could be taken to further promote gender equity in the workplace while protecting the environment?

The Marshall Islands stated that environmental risks directly affect their core industries such as agriculture, fisheries and tourism, threatening to drown the substantial number of jobs and livelihoods that depend on them. Moreover, the representative argued that the development of marine resources is the mainstay of the Marshallese economy, while agricultural production is primarily subsistence. Accordingly, it goes without saying that the global warming fallouts would deal a mortal blow to our development and self-sufficiency perspectives. Furthermore, it has been reminded that over 85 per cent of the land of the Cook Islands, Kiribati, and Marshall Islands lies less than five meters above sea level, inexorably forcing displacement of our entire population, assuming the temperature rise continues. The representative highlighted that advancing towards sustainability can create employment; even if it implies an important redistribution of labor, as environmentally damaging industries downsize or adapt and environmentally compatible industries emerge and grow. The representative ended by sharing that the Marshall Islands' president last called on the fact that "It is essential for all of us to ensure that words are met with action".

Mauritania emphasized the importance of the right to work, including the right of everyone to the possibility of earning a living through work which they freely choose and accept. The delegation also emphasized the need for States and international institutions to take appropriate measures to enable the full realization of this right, including the use of climate and environmental programs and policies, because of the direct contribution of this right to the achievement of economic, social and cultural development, so that people can have a decent life. However, according to the representative, this inherent right faces the negative repercussions of climate change, which casts a shadow of fear and anxiety over the future of the right to work. Excessive warmth at labor poses an occupational health risk. They restrict the functions and physical abilities of workers, as well as their ability to work, thus affecting productivity. Besides, as the representative implied, Economic losses caused by heat stress will increase already existing economic deprivation, especially higher poverty rates among workers and increased informal work, and will cause locals to suffer the poorest areas greatest economic losses, and other social consequences. The consequences will inevitably lead to increased migration, leaving rural workers in search of better prospects. Common challenges only have common solutions. In this context, the delegation of Mauritania called on the other countries to face up to this imminent danger through concerted efforts and to strengthen them, in particular by the establishment by the Council of a global, consensual and participatory approach which takes into account the different dimensions and impacts of climate change on the enjoyment of human rights, including He has the right to work. In conclusion, Mauritania posed a question to the panelists about the kinds of solutions that COP 27 can offer to address these critical challenges.

Nepal began by stating that Climate change led to a disruption of the world of the works by obstructing the lives and livelihood of people. Moreover, the country has witnessed the loss of lives and destruction of properties by climate catastrophe while also pushing millions of people back to poverty. Nepal argued that the international community must fulfill its climate commitments. Indeed, In Nepal, the lives of mountain people are made more difficult due to the catastrophic consequences of climate change, and erratic weather patterns have induced unintended consequences in employment opportunities. Nepal stated that it aims to become a carbon-neutral country by 2045 but it needs huge investments for the green transition. In addition, the fulfillment of rights to work helps in the fulfillment of other sustainable development goals including ending poverty by 2030. The representative ended by saying that the people affected by climate change should see themselves provide social protection and new employment opportunities must be created for them.

Poland aligned itself with the statement delivered by the European Union and wished to add some comments in national capacity. As mentioned by the representative of Poland, the panel discussions prove that the right to work is one of human rights that should be protected vis-à-vis climate action and that we cannot neglect rights and needs of individuals who should be placed at the very heart of those efforts. It is undeniable that adaptation to climate change influences working conditions and requires restructuring of industry and employment. Therefore, Poland called on the importance to guide climate action by the concept of just transition – a concept that is a true realization of the human rights-based approach and which ensures that the necessary transformation remains inclusive, sustainable, and leaves no one behind. In this context, through cooperation industry and business continuously offer innovative opportunities and synergy by adopting human rights sensitive policies.

Portugal, on behalf of the members of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP): Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, São Tomé and Príncipe and Timor -East. The delegation began by welcoming the holding of this panel on a topic as relevant to the Human Rights Council as the promotion of the right to work, in the context of Climate Change. The delegation is deeply committed to the implementation of concrete policies and measures aimed at promoting the right to work, in the current context of the climate crisis. Indeed, as mentioned, the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (CPLP), since 2012, an International Center for Climate Research and Applications for the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries and Africa (CIICLAA), to support the Community's applied research in the area of climate geosciences. The delegation stated that the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism can play an important role in promoting the right to work in the context of climate change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with SDGs 8 and 13, and is a decisive tool, to advance the right to decent and sustainable work. In conclusion, the delegation reiterated their commitment to contribute to sustainable development, which protects the planet and promotes decent work opportunities for all, based on expanding access to the right to social security and professional training.

Romania (didn't speak due to lack of time) began by stating that the future of the right to work is central for the wellbeing of the next generation for the respect of their human dignity, having thus an essential contribution to the exercise of all other human rights. According to the representative of Romania, the emerging tendency stirred by the deeply structural implications of the challenges related to climate changes, edge technologies, economic and social consequences of Covid-19 pandemic might have a rather beneficial impact on the realization of the right to work and for just transition success. According to the representative of Romania, the emerging tendency stirred by the deeply structural implications of the challenges related to climate changes, edge technologies, economic and social consequences of Covid-19 pandemic might have a rather beneficial impact on the realization of the right to work and for just transition success. Moreover, States, business sector, social partners and global governance systems should be prepared to integrate through a coordinated approach and strong partnerships our young generation's new sense of social duty and to respond properly and on short term to it. The representative continued by stating that immediate and upscale implementation of the circular economy concept should be the States' reaction to climate changes and current economic difficulties; this concept's policies and action plans must be both sustainable and inclusive. At the end, Romania explained that it started making implementations locally, which will strengthen economic competitiveness and have an enhanced impact on the realization of the right to work, while boosting sustainable use and preservation of natural resources, advancing responsible consumption and environmental education.

Russia (did not speak due to lack of time) The Russian Federation declared paying special attention to climate issues, and actively participates in its discussions in the international arena, makes a significant contribution to efforts to reduce the anthropogenic impact on the environment and climate, based on national conditions of socio-economic development. The Russian Federation declared it has always been committed to increasing the effectiveness of existing international legal mechanisms in the areas of environment and climate. According to the Russian Federation, the link between the human rights agenda and the problems of climate change is unreasonable and largely artificial. To continue, Russia expressed concerns about the negative trend of erosion of the mandate of UNEP and other international platforms on environment and climate. The representative highlighted ongoing attempts to transfer the debate on environmental issues to other non-essential bodies. Council resolutions are systematically saturated with formulations that lead the HRC to positions that do not correspond to the realities in the fight against climate change and the protection of the environment. For the Russian Federation, the Council and the OHCHR have neither the mandate nor the competence and expertise required in this area. According to the Russian Federation, this approach remains counterproductive.

The Delegation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines began by stating that human-induced climate change and the subsequent rise in global temperatures, has led to intensified tropical cyclones, increased variability in rainfall, prolonged drought seasons and increased vector borne diseases, which resulted in numerous disasters in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. As is usually the case, vulnerable populations such as women, children, the elderly and the differently abled feel these influences more severely. Then, these effects presented substantial challenges for industries such as Tourism and Agriculture; and affected many small businesses and their employees particularly in rural communities and low-lying coastal areas. Regarding that, the delegation urgently called on actions to build resilience to climate change in affected sectors. Moreover, it argued that research and risk analysis on the links to climate, work and the right to work will also be an asset, and should be encouraged.

Samoa aligns with the statement delivered by Timor Leste on behalf of a group of SIDS. As stated by the representative, Samoa is a small Island Developing State that is economically vulnerable and ecologically fragile. Samoa reiterated the importance of a just transition in relation to a green economy and sustainable development. . At the same time, Samoa highlighted the need for a Pacific Islands focused assessment of green jobs, sustainable employment and the connection between climate change and the future of work. Samoa emphasized to the Council the need to continue engagement and dialogue to share knowledge, improve data collection and technology transfers; as well, access to technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in order to realize a just transition for island nations.

Senegal shared the opinion that the integration and consideration of climate issues in all areas of human rights is now a development imperative. Indeed, the climate affects all sectors and considering its effects makes development strategies and the planning of operational activities more successful. Thus, with a view to improve the social protection of workers in the context of the Covid 19 pandemic and other factors likely to have negative impacts on workers' rights, Senegal has put in place a National Plan for the Strengthening of Social Dialogue. Through this program, the objective is to contribute, through social dialogue, to the establishment of lasting social stability, conducive to the promotion of decent work and economic emergence. Ultimately, while taking due note of the panelists' recommendations, the Delegation would like to draw the Council's attention to the need to implement more inclusive social policies, taking climate change into account for better preservation of jobs, labor decent and workers' rights.

The delegation of South Africa agreed on the fact that the pandemic has exposed and deepened existing vulnerabilities and inequalities. In addition, it makes the world of work upside down. Moreover, globalization, demographic shifts, trade and other forms of protectionism, and climate change are bound to have consequences for future work processes. The delegation of South Africa agreed with the panelists on the fact that improving the lives of people across the world should be improved and that actors should prepare collectively for a new world of work. The delegation of South Africa agreed with the panelists on the fact that improving the lives of people across the world should be improved and that actors should prepare collectively for a new world of work. At the end of the speech, the delegation of South Africa asked to hear from the panelists on how countries can develop strategies on the future of work, which are human-centered, forward-looking, and focuses on developing the human capabilities needed to thrive in a carbon-neutral, digital age?

Trinidad and Tobago on behalf of Member States of CARICOM in Geneva (Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago) welcomed this discussion, which is particularly pertinent in the current global context of the climate crisis, pandemic recovery, conflict and upward trends with respect to the cost of living. The delegation shared the concerns expressed regarding the deleterious impact of these challenges on livelihoods and on the enjoyment of human rights, not least of all the right to work. The delegation applauded not only the insightful contributions of the panelists, but also the important work they have been doing in respect of the challenges discussed. As Governments seek to fulfill commitments made in respect of the Paris Agreement and intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs), the delegation urged on the importance to consider new and creative ways to limit job loss associated with climate action, so that the fulfillment of these commitments does not produce increased economic and social vulnerability, especially among the most marginalized. In this regard, the delegation highlighted that developments in the region relating to the use of advanced technologies facilitate climate-smart and climate-resilient agriculture. These developments hold valuable potential for job creation. They also have key implications for the preservation of livelihoods and for food security in the Small Island Developing States of CARICOM that are grappling with the threats and impacts of climate change. In closing, the delegation also highlighted the importance to continue this dialogue and welcome the indication that the conclusions from today will inform COP27.

Tunisia recognized climate change as one of the greatest challenges facing humanity. For Tunisia, Managing the devastating effects of climate change on the environment and countries' economies requires practical measures from major industrialized countries to reduce heat emissions and transition to a green, low-carbon economy. It also requires the strengthening of international cooperation and solidarity. The objective for the country is to guarantee a decent life for its population and achieve the sustainable development goals by 2030. It is in this context that Tunisia ratified the Paris Climate Agreement, which recognizes the importance of the interdependence between measures to combat climate change, employment, and social inclusion. At the local level, Tunisia is committed to the fight. Since 2014, Tunisia has launched a national strategy for the green economy, which aims to concentrate new green economic activities in several areas, including bio-agriculture, eco-tourism, sustainable transport, sustainable infrastructure, and green industries, to contribute to overall and balanced economic growth and the creation of additional jobs.

UN Women's through their Feminist Plan for Sustainability and Social Justice Places gender equality at the center of the economic recovery and transformation, examining policy proposals to be use by governments and gender equality advocates to build gender-just transitions, which aim to create synergies between gender equality, social justice and environmental sustainability. Some of the recommendations in the Feminist Plan include gender responsive public procurement to strengthen local food markets and ensure women's right to food. Moreover, the promotion of gender equality and women's empowerment through decentralized renewable energy projects that expand access to electricity and reduce the gap between rural and urban areas. According to the organization, the current economic system is causing an environmental crisis that is affecting women and girls the hardest. The need to mobilize all fiscal and regulatory policies, placing care at the center of economic growth, making sure that women and men benefit equally, and that gender-specific risks and vulnerabilities should be taken into account. At the end, the UN Women reaffirmed that Gender-just transitions could only be achieved through transparent, participatory and accountable processes that place women's rights at the center of the development agenda, and ensure their voices are considered.

The United Arab Emirates expressed its implication on a policy of promoting comprehensive and sustainable economic growth, full and successful employment, and decent work for all to contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Based on an innovative approach that takes into account the scientific and technological aspects. Thus, as the representative points out, this development takes advantage of the capacities it offers and works to find practical solutions to the Effectiveness of the challenges posed with full respect for human beings and their rights. The UAE recognizes that jobs from traditional sectors are shifting to fast-growing sectors contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation, such as clean energy, green manufacturing, and goods and services environmental. It is with this in mind that the UAE has adopted action programs that ensure the reorientation of the education and training system to meet the demands of changing labor market needs. The UAE's potential green economy is expected to provide approximately 160,000 new jobs by 2030. In conclusion, the UAE delegation pointed up the importance of strengthening international cooperation and partnerships in this climate, as the 28th edition will be hosted by the United Arab Emirates in 2023, will be an excellent opportunity to renew the international commitment to joint action to develop and implement innovative solutions to protect the right to work and create frameworks for ensure promising prospects.

United Nations Development Program (did not speak due to lack of time) began by stating that Climate change is a direct threat to humanity and the goals of the 2030 Agenda. The UNDP continued by saying that the protection of the rights of workers ensure a just transition to renewable energy and a greener inclusive economy, UNDP is supporting several initiatives including UNDP's Climate Promise and Environmental Justice Strategy. First, the UNDP by working with governments integrated human rights and stakeholder voices into NDCs, NAPS, NBSAPS, linked sector, and employment strategies. Second, the UNDP strengthened the capacities of stakeholders to engage in the implementation of climate mitigation, adaptation, and complementary environmental and labor policies. Third, the UNDP by working with sister UN agencies and other partners ensured that the needs and knowledge of women and men workers integrate the green recovery planning. For example, through the Partnership for Action on Green Economy and similar initiatives, UNDP helps ensure that workers affected by climate change are covered by social protection and broader investments in green jobs through a just transition. Through the work of the Human Rights Council, OHCHR, and the Secretary General's Call to Action on Human Rights, UNDP and sister agencies are also developing resources to help integrate human rights and linked labor concerns into climate programming.

Vietnam welcomed the holding of this panel and aligned itself with the joint statement of ASEAN. Moreover, regarding the impacts of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the risks to the world of work have influenced both rural and urban areas, particularly in the informal economy. Vietnam as one of the countries' most vulnerable to climate change and weather-related disasters emphasized the green economy transformation, and the environmental protection, as an effective response to climate change and other security challenges. Vietnam argued joining the ILO and other partners to realize more green jobs and a positive labor market transition in adaptation to climate change. These initiatives involve cross cutting issues such as gender equality, skills development, occupational safety, health and social security. Vietnam emphasized that decent work is not just a goal – it is a key driver of sustainable development. The representative at the end asked the panelists on how might national responses to climate change better advance employment creation, social justice and fair transitions for workers, enterprises and communities.

Vietnam on behalf of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) ASEAN Member States acknowledged the Climate Action for Jobs Initiative that the United Nations Secretary-General launched in September 2019. The representative stated that the Paris Agreement promoted a just transition and decent work elements to responses to climate change. ASEAN countries are taking measures under the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework (ACRF) to address the uneven impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on disadvantaged segments of society in five key priority areas for regional recovery, including through the mainstreaming of gender equality, environmental sustainability, reskilling and upskilling for employment, inclusive digital transformation, and transition to renewable energy and energy efficiency. Indeed, given the various regional and national efforts made, precarious, informal and under-employment are still the main issues in many countries. The representative asked the panelists on how might states better track SDG 8 and promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth and decent work for all in a low-carbon and climate resilient future?

Author: Emanuel Konan

Uploaded: October 3rd 2022


Cultural Diversity and Sustainable Development for Peace