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 â€œfor inaction nor a barrier to action â€“â€“ indeed poverty is strong reason to act with haste.”
In his message to mark the day, ILO Director-General, Mr. Juan Somavia said, â€œtens of millions of jobs can be created and sustained around the world with sound environmental management.”
He identified specific areas such as â€œrecovering degraded forests, wetlands and river systems which conserve soils and ensure clean water supplies.”
The ILO Director-General said, â€œnatural resources account for as much as half of the â€œGDP of the poorâ€ 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 â€œ impoverishes communities and societies; the impact is eventually global.”
The Director-General said even with industrialisation, nations should promoteÂ “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, â€œbiodiversity 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: â€œProtecting 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.”