The ILO’s green focus is good news


One of theme’s at this year’s International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva was “Sustainable development, decent work and green jobs.

It was the first time in a long time that environmental sustainability was a major topic at an International Labour Organisation (ILO) congress.

In 2008, however, the ILO did publish a report on Green Jobs and since then several intresting reports on similar themes  have also been presented by the ILO.

The conclusions of this year’s sustainability theme were mostly based on how the tri-partite delegates of workers, employers and governments could work together to answer the questions posed at the end of the ILO draft report on the subject. Two of the main questions and answers were these:

Q: How will the main current environmental problems, such as climate change, water scarcity and deforestation, affect the world of work?

A: Negatively, if the proper policies aren’t put in place, is the short answer. The longer answer is that investing in green jobs will result in the creation of many new jobs, providing a much needed stimulus to our troubled global economy.


Q: What challenges could the implementation of green policies result in for the world of work?

A: In the short run, environmentally-detrimental firms and jobs will be threatened, which makes it even more essential that policies are put in place to help with the transition.

The ILO’s future role in enabling a smooth transition towards sustainability was also a theme in the first annual report of the new Director-General, Guy Ryder.

He focused on the ILO’s forthcoming centenary in 2019 to launch seven new initiatives around the themes of governance, standards, enterprises, green jobs, poverty, women and the future of work.

On the green front, there is a new initiative concerning the ecological dimension of sustainability, another relating to corporate sustainability initiatives, and a third addressing poverty alleviation and protecting the social floor.

The ILO aims to become an important sustainability actor in the future.

While other UN agencies seem to be struggling with the transition to a global sustainability agenda, perhaps the ILO has the best chance of success.

With such a large proportion of the world’s environmental impact linked to the world of work, decent work is a real solution to so many of our current socio-economic challenges.

Thus, the ILO’s new commitment to ‘green and decent jobs’ might have a real chance of success – and that is good news!