Green recovery and transition are crucial for sustainable future

Ms Dagmar Walter, Director ILO India, provided her address at the joint UN agency event organized on the occasion of World Youth Skills Day - Discussion on “Skilling for Inclusive and Green Recovery”

Statement | New Delhi, India | 16 July 2021
Ms Juthika Patankar, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Government of India;

Mr Praveen Saxena, Green Jobs Sector Skill Council, GoI;

Representatives from Chambers of Commerce, Industries, Employers, Workers, Civil Society Organisations and think-tanks;

Green entrepreneurs;

Young people, and

Colleagues from the United Nations,

Esteemed participants,

1. This year’s World Youth Skills Day again takes place in a challenging context, in the midst of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and with education and training systems yet to return to normal conditions. The discussion today aims to celebrate the resilience and creativity of youth throughout the crisis and to promote skills for green and inclusive recovery.

2. The trillions of dollars deployed in the economic recovery process can be a driver for sustainability and decent work creation. Findings by the ILO and research partners in a forthcoming publication indicate that a green recovery scenario with investments into renewable energies, building efficiency, and green transport, would add over 20 million new jobs alone by 2030. Interestingly, this is far more than from a similarly sized stimulus, based on cutting value-added taxes, which would add only 3 million new jobs. Hence, policy decisions have a direct impact on the level of job creation and providing youth with possibilities for earning a living, which is so essential for human purpose and dignity.

3. Right skills for green jobs will accelerate the transition to a greener economy and full and productive employment as enshrined in Sustainable Development Goal No. 8. Today, skills gaps are already recognized as a major bottleneck in this journey. The adoption and dissemination of clean technologies requires skills in technology application, adaptation and maintenance. Skills are also crucial for economies and businesses, workers and entrepreneurs, to rapidly adapt to changes as a consequence of environmental policies or climate change. Likewise, workers and communities that would lose jobs in ‘brown industries’ need opportunities for acquiring new skills and employment to support a Green and Just Transition. In fact, ILO will implement a 4-year project to promote Just transition in the coal sector, which will focus on re-skilling of workers to green existing jobs and get new jobs.

4. Green recovery and transition to low carbon economies, offers an opportunity to address the many pre-existing employment challenges faced by women. There are opportunities for women to advance from low-skill, entry-level positions to high-skill, higher-paying green jobs. Opportunities also exist for women to become green entrepreneurs and green employers. The green economy actually offers a blank slate, and with new opportunities to promote gender equality and inclusiveness. It therefore holds promises for India, which reported further decline in female labour force participation during the pandemic.

5. Green recovery also holds the potential to integrate traditional artisans and rural economies, especially the farmers, to both national and global value chains, thus promoting inclusive local development and reducing regional disparities. To illustrate, ILO’s Grameen Shakti (GS) microloans initiative in Bangladesh helped to install more than 100,000 solar home systems in rural communities and has trained over 5,000 women as solar PV technicians and maintenance workers, thus empowering them to set up their own energy business and green the energy sector.

6. In India, ILO trained rural youths, in particular women and developed a cadre of barefoot engineers, who were employed in Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY). The ILO Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) training in India has been promoting green businesses in partnership with State governments, especially among women, for post-disaster green recoveries, including in times of COVID-19. Recently in Kerala for instance in collaboration with Kudumbashree more than 3000 women have been supported to start green business. Similarly, with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) in Uttarakhand, 800 young women have been helped to embrace the path of self-employment and flag bearers of the green economy.

7. It is important to note that the new jobs created in the environmentally sustainable economy often require higher qualifications and new sets of skills. Gender disparities will persist with women getting only a fraction of the green jobs created or a share of green business unless immediate measures are taken to train women in relevant skills. The inclusion of women in apprenticeship training and university level STEM subjects for environmentally sustainable jobs is crucial for overcoming gender disparities in the labour market and skill shortages in certain occupations. For example, in Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines, the ILO has trained and placed more than 4000 women in STEM related jobs in partnership with the private sector.

8. Finally, I wish to conclude by underscoring the significance of the social dialogue process involving the workers, employers and government in ensuring the recovery is just, inclusive and green. The success lies in reflecting the voice of the real players of the economy and responding to their needs to bridge skills supply and demand in the market. Young people, the future of India, must have a strong say in this.

9. I look forward to learning from the success stories of youth innovation and resilience during today’s event.

Thank you for your kind attention.