Barbados calls for development of green jobs

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102nd International Labour Conference

Barbados has called for the development of green jobs.

Minister of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Mrs. Byer-Suckoo told the 102nd International Labour Conference that it is a sobering reality that member States are increasingly being confronted with a myriad of challenges, including environmental challenges such as the availability of fossil fuels, climate change, pollution of the oceans and degradation of our forests.

She said these are issues that impact on us all and now more than ever, we must seek to identify and implement modern solutions to these long standing problems.

” One of the more practical solutions that we can pursue would be the creation of green jobs to engage the workforce in the attainment of environmental sustainability. Whilst acknowledging the turbulence of the economic environment in which we reside, I believe we must be willing to make a substantial investment in the developing of the relevance skills sets if any commitment to the development f a green economy is to go beyond lofty pledges and promises. Naturally, persons equipped with such skills sets can contribute to the further development of a variety of green sectors which in turn, can help to foster a climate of sustainable economic development. I refer to green sectors such as solar, wind and wave energy generation, green building construction, eco-tourism and coastal conservation. “

But, Minister Byer-Suckoo cautions that promoting green jobs and nurturing and sustaining this sector will be no simple short-term task. Indeed, she explains, detailed planning would be required first and foremost. For instance, the economic and development planners in our respective countries would be expected to liaise with green employers and other environmental experts, not only to formulate relevant policies at the national level, but to determine which green sectors have the potential to generate the highest returns on investment.

“Once these sectors have been identified, an assessment would be made as to the skills sets that would be necessary to assist in their further development. Then, our planners would be encouraged to dialogue with our tertiary educational institutions to ascertain whether they have the capacity to train sufficient persons with the requisite skills. Where training gaps are identified, adequate resources would have to appropriated to fill those gaps. If such detailed activity can be implemented, I am confident that several benefits can be accrued from our investing in structured long-term environmental programmes. These benefits include the facilitation of new areas of economic activity and jobs, financial savings from the dale of less fossil fuels and the protection of our natural resources. This is the reality for Barbados – a small island developing State with a small vulnerable economy hard hit by the prolonged global recession, especially since our GDP and jobs are primarily from tourism. “

Minister Byer-Suckoo lamented that though Barbados has tried to control its unemployment rate over the last five years through a strong tripartite dialogue process, it has seen a steady rise in joblessness now at unacceptably high levels.

“So we have embarked on our human resource development strategy and developed our national employment policy focusing on education and training in both traditional and green projects to provide jobs, develop our economy and protect our vulnerable environment. In April 1994, the global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States was held in Barbados to consider how small islands states could address their special challenges. That conference determined that sustainable development was the logical answer and adopted the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States to help bring it about. Now, 20 years later, the point must be emphasized – the creation of a green economy and green jobs must be seen and treated as crucial to sustainable development especially for Small Island Developing States. Education and training in green sectors must be given priority in our national development plans and adequate funds allocated within our budgets to ensure that the green economy makes the maximum contribution possible towards the development of our countries. “

Barbados' Minister of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource, Mrs. Esther Byer-Suckoo.

Meanwhile, ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, called for urgent action in a number of critical areas to meet the demands of a rapidly evolving world of work. Reviewing the discussions that took place at the 102nd International Labour Conference, Ryder stressed the ILO's determination to fulfil the organization's mandate to improve the conditions of Palestinian workers. He also reaffirmed his commitment to implement "Seven Centenary Initiatives" – covering governance, standards, enterprises, green jobs, poverty, women and the future of work – which were outlined in his report to the conference.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

Duration: 5’13″

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