The ILO in Copenhagen: Climate change @ work

The ILO actively participates in the UNFCCC process and the climate negotiations in Copenhagen. Taking part in the climate UNFCCC negotiations the ILO aims to support coherent policies which buffer the negative impacts of climate change on the labour market and creating opportunities for decent and green jobs and which sustain governments, employers and workers in the transition to adapt and to prevent dangerous climate change.

Climate change, sustainable enterprises and labour markets

The climate negotiations are an effort to solve a looming environmental crisis, but the repercussions will go far beyond the environment and affect economies and societies around the world. Climate change and policies to address it will transform production and consumption patterns and thus the way enterprises and labour markets operate. Moreover, it is becoming clear that measures to protect the climate and to adapt to climate change will require active engagement of millions of employers and workers.

The ILO therefore participates actively in the UNFCCC process and the climate negotiations in Copenhagen in order to support coherent policies which buffer the negative impacts of climate change on the labour market, create opportunities for decent and green jobs and which facilitate the transition to sustainable economies, enterprises and employment opportunities.

This brief summarizes the background and the negotiation process; it identifies the most relevant issues for policy coherence and for the promotion of green and decent job creation and shows how the current gap could be bridged. The document also highlights the need to manage the different –negative and positive- impacts of climate change itself and climate change-related policies.

Although the inter-relations between climate change and social- and economic development are increasingly being recognized they have yet to translate into more coherent economic, social and environmental policies. In this respect, the new global agreement on climate is an opportunity that cannot be missed to incorporate the employment and social dimension of measures to adapt to climate change and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


  • Economic recovery and Green Jobs: win-win for development, climate and labour?
    Side event on the 14th December 2009 in the World of Work Pavilion

    In order to discuss whether a green recovery from the financial crisis and green jobs are a win-win for development climate and labour Guy Ryder (General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Pavan Sukhdev (Project Leader for UNEP's “Green Economy” initiative) and high level officials are inviting to the debate.
  • Addressing social consequences of climate change:impacts on development, employment, health and gender.
    Side event on the 15th December in the Bella Center

    The event will highlight the multidimensional nature of climate change, far beyond the environmental impacts. Climate change is hitting the most vulnerable hardest, especially the world’s poor, because they are more likely to be dependent on the very resources affected by climate change and because they have far less capacity to protect and adapt themselves. These impacts threaten to undo the hard won achievements towards the Millennium Development Goals, yet climate change could be turned into an opportunity to achieve more sustainable societies and communities. Five UN agencies will jointly explore the options.
  • Green economy: Implementing a New Climate Deal.
    Side event on the 17th December 2009 in Bella Center

    As the international community faces a combination of grave financial, economic and environmental threats, one response to which many of the world’s economic policy makers are looking is the “Green Economy”. Mr. Achim Steiner (UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director) and high level officials from governments and the financial sector will discuss the linkages between the green economy and the major issues for the climate negotiations such as technology transfer, the mitigation policies, measures to reduce greenhouse gas emission from deforestation and climate finance.
  • The United Nations System Delivering as One on Climate Change.
    Side event on the 16th December 2009 in Bella Center

    As an active part of the United Nations System strategy for ‘Delivering as One on Climate Change’ ILO joins other UN agencies in inviting to debate the role of the UN system in providing coherent and consistent support to the efforts of Member States at national, regional and global levels for addressing climate change through action on adaptation, capacity building, technology transfer, REDD and other measures. The ILO will be represented by the Regional Director Sachiko Yamamoto who will describe the work of the ILO in addressing the labour and decent work dimension of climate change
  • Advancing work on adaptation to climate change: A United Nations system perspective.
    Side event on the 14th December 2009

    Adaptation to climate change is a complex challenge. The UN system is bringing together its diverse capacities into a coherent approach to assist countries in adapting to the impacts of climate change, while tackling poverty and achieving sustainable growth. This event will showcase good practices and resources developed by the UN system in key areas of adaptation such as integrated land and water management, disaster risk reduction, food security and data collection and analysis within the broader framework of development planning, knowledge sharing and partnership building:


  • Supporting employers, workers and governments around the world to deal with the impacts of climate change on labour markets.
    The ILO-wide Green Jobs Programme sustains with a wide range of activities the transformation of economies, enterprises, workplaces and labour markets into a sustainable low-carbon economy providing decent work opportunities for all. The ILO, through the Green Jobs Programme is working to deepen its expertise in analysis and policy advice on the formulation and implementation of policies and measures which contribute to recovery from economic crisis in the short-term and to promoting fair globalization and the development of sustainable enterprises and economies which are efficient, socially just and environmentally sound in the medium to long term.
  • New ILO study: A price on carbon can create more jobs in a low carbon economy
    The “World of Work Report” 2009 just published by the ILO International Institute for Labour Studies assesses the current state of labour markets worldwide amid the economic crisis and analyses the economic and social implications of phasing out stimulus packages and employment support measures. In a special chapter on green polices and jobs (chapter 4) it finds a double dividend for the climate and for labour markets can be obtained from putting a price on carbon.
  • ILO work on climate change adaptation embedded in UN system efforts
    Projected climate change impacts will lead to serious disruption of economic and social activity in many sectors on all continents and therefore will have significant implications for the structure of economies, settlement patterns, livelihoods and employment. The United Nations system, including the ILO, is committed to supporting Member States in responding to the climate change adaptation challenge by delivering as one at the global, regional and country levels on the basis of its convening, normative and advocacy role, its sectoral expertise, and its operational and coordination capabilities, in partnership with all relevant stakeholders.
    In order to strengthen the adaptive capacity of the poorest, the UN Policy Brief emphasizes employment in recovery from climate related disasters, as well as the role of labour institutions, workers and employers in designing and implementing adaptation policies to climate change impacts and therefore in creating resilient economies and communities:
  • ILO work to recover from the economic crisis embedded in UN system initiatives
    As the international community faces one of the gravest financial, economic and social threats in our lifetime, the UN System High Level Committee on Programmes (UN/HLCP), currently chaired by the ILO Director General, Juan Somavia, has come together to analyze the relevant aspects and mobilize for action to confront the impact of the crisis in the areas of work of each of its members. The HLCP is fully committed to the task ahead in facing these unprecedented economic, social and environmental challenges.
    As part of this collaborative exercise the ILO is working together with UNEP and others UN organizations on the CEB Environment Priority, in particular in the Green Economy Initiative. The aim of this Joint Crisis Initiative (JCI) is to promote investment in long-term environmental sustainability as part of stimulus and recovery expenditure and to put the world on the climate-friendly path.