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ILO canvasses ‘green environment’ for job creation

By Funmi Komolafe
As the Nigeria and other nations mark the World Environment Day tomorrow, the International Labour Organisation, ILO, has called for the promotion of green environment which is capable of creating tens of millions of jobs worldwide.

It warned that poverty is not a justification “for inaction nor a barrier to action –– indeed poverty is strong reason to act with haste.”

In his message to mark the day, ILO Director-General, Mr. Juan Somavia said, “tens of millions of jobs can be created and sustained around the world with sound environmental management.”

He identified specific areas such as “recovering degraded forests, wetlands and river systems which conserve soils and ensure clean water supplies.”

The ILO Director-General said, “natural resources account for as much as half of the “GDP of the poor” even when the recorded average contribution to the national economy may be less than 10 per cent. Preserving natural resources and being attentive to how they are tapped economically is fundamental to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.”

He warned that continuous abuse of the natural environment for short-time gains “ impoverishes communities and societies; the impact is eventually global.”

The Director-General said even with industrialisation, nations should promote  “low carbon and environmentally-friendly economy.”

Mr. Somavia who is currently hosting over 150 countries including Nigeria at the 99th session of the International Labour Conference said, “biodiversity and natural resources are of immense economic and social significance to economies, enterprises and workers everywhere. They directly underpin over one billion jobs globally in agriculture, fisheries and forestry.

Today, one out of every three workers earns a living in these sectors. Biodiversity and nature are also the backbone of industries such as tourism, one of the most rapidly growing sources of employment in many countries.” He said promoting a green economy is beneficial to all.

In his words: “Protecting biodiversity and natural resources is to protect and create jobs for today and tomorrow.

With strategies that are respectful of the environment and of people, responsive to the needs and concerns of economic sectors, enterprises and economies, sustainable development is possible. It is a huge challenge. It will require a sound process of social dialogue engaging all stakeholders to make the trade offs, to facilitate adjustment to change, and to mobilize know-how, energy and resources.”


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