Trade unions aims to influence action on biodiversity

That trade unions are openly taking action on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning is something quite new. However, as you can see below the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) have made calls this week in relation to the Biodiversity consultations in Japan to take action on biodiversity, interestingly framing biodiversity and ecosystem functionining as part of a progressive and contemporary worker's agenda for safer, more equitable and more sustainable societies. Workers, and their unions are here interestingly placed as an important agent in creating a more just transition.
In order to address the biodiversity challenge in a socially fair manner, it is fundamentally important to ensure that workers and their trade unions are actively involved in decisions on the protection of ecosystems. The trade union movement calls for a ‘Just Transition’* framework to be integrated in biodiversity policies, as a means for promoting investment, decent jobs and social protection policies that will help restore ecosystems and improve the livelihoods of all workers.
One can note that the trade union ITUC at least implicitly means that if unions are not consulted, all the international efforts (and capital) that are invested in forging and shaping a transition towards a more ecological sustainable society will not necessarily be socially just, but merely 'more sustainable' and just another business opportunity. (See full letter from ITUC below.)



Years ago I read that British workers convened through their unions on an annual meeting around climate change and ecological crises, framing themselves as being representative of those in the world that will be some of the most badly hit if and when ecological crisis undermine the ability for ecosystems to provide safety and support of human well-being.

In their call to this meeting (I have forgot which is was but will try to find it) they argued that governments and business wants us to believe that climate change and ecological crisis is about individual choice and how we act as individuals. They rhetorically wrote that business and governments want us to believe that it would for instance be enough if we change to low-energy light bulbs in our homes. They meant that misses the point of changing the systemic relations within contemporary capitalistic production that exploits workers as well as ecosystems.

The trend of how organized workers aim to actively engage and shape the discourse and policy on transitions towards more sustainable futures is a very interesting one. Anybody that knows of good publications on this matter can e-mail me.


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INTERNATIONAL TRADE UNION CONFEDERATION (ITUC)

ITUC OnLine
154/201010

Trade Unions Call for Action on Biodiversity

Brussels, 20 October 2010 (ITUC OnLine): Maintaining biodiversity is a central issue for working people and their communities around the planet, including through the creation of decent jobs, protection of livelihoods and ensuring resilience to climate change, according to the ITUC in its submission to biodiversity talks currently underway in Nagoya, Japan. 

"Biodiversity loss is a major social and economic challenge with large implications for workers and their communities”, said Sharan Burrow, ITUC general secretary. “The economic model in which we all live is not only responsible for the worst forms of inequality and poverty, but is also accountable for irreversible environmental destruction, such as climate change and the destruction of ecosystems on which we depend for our very survival.”

In order to address the biodiversity challenge in a socially fair manner, it is fundamentally important to ensure that workers and their trade unions are actively involved in decisions on the protection of ecosystems.

The trade union movement calls for a ‘Just Transition’* framework to be integrated in biodiversity policies, as a means for promoting investment, decent jobs and social protection policies that will help restore ecosystems and improve the livelihoods of all workers.

“Biodiversity protection is possible if we build together a different economic model, where workers can enjoy Decent Work opportunities and communities can benefit from the sustainable use of natural resources,” said Burrow.

The  trade union contribution to the 10th Conference of the Convention on Biological Diversity, taking place in Nagoya, Japan, from the 18-29 October 2010, is set out in detail in the statement released by the ITUC today http://www.ituc-csi.org/trade-unions-biodiversity-an-ituc.html  

*Just Transition refers to the need for long-term sustainable investments that create decent jobs, pro-active training and skills development policies, social dialogue with trade unions, employers and other stakeholders, research and early assessment of social and employment impacts of biodiversity policies, the development of social protection schemes, and the need to develop local economic diversification plans.


The ITUC represents 176 million workers in 151 countries and territories and has 301 national affiliates. http://www.ituc-csi.org  and http://www.youtube.com/ITUCCSI  

For more information, please contact the ITUC Press Department on: +32 2 224 0204 or +32 476 621 018

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