Virtual Event

ECOSOC Youth Forum Calls for Green Jobs for Youth

News | 06 April 2021
The ECOSOC Youth Forum side event, “Climate Action for Decent Jobs for Youth”, convened by the ILO and moderated by the Ms. Mette Grangaard Lund from the Green Jobs Unit, made a strong call for governments, employers and workers to support a just transition to a greener economy with decent jobs for youth. This year marked the 10th anniversary of the ECOSOC Youth Forum, the largest annual convening of youth delegates at the United Nations Headquarters, this year with over 10,000 youth delegates participating virtually.

Young people, representatives from the ILO, governments, workers and employers, and ecopreneurs gathered to discuss the intersecting agenda of climate action and decent jobs for youth. Young people globally have been a key driving force in shaping the political momentum for climate action, but they can also be the beneficiaries of green jobs, if the right policies and just transition strategies are put in place. Currently, at least 1 in 5 young people are not in employment, education, or training, and many have had their education and employment disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, green growth can provide an opportunity to address the youth employment challenge while simultaneously preserving the environment and increasing climate resilience. The ILO estimates that about 24 million new jobs could be created in the green economy by 2030.
Ms. Camila Roman, Policy Specialist at the ILO’s Green Jobs Unit, and one of the leads behind the Climate Action for Jobs Initiative launched by the UN Secretary-General in 2019, emphasized that environmental and climate challenges were as pressing as ever. The solution lies in green jobs; these are decent employment opportunities that can advance the shift to sustainability. Ms. Roman underscored the need for mobilizing private sector commitment and investment.

Mr. Gonzalo Sáenz de Miera, Director of Climate Change and Alliances at Iberdrola underscored the commitment of the energy company for creating green jobs for youth in the near future. In fact, Iberdrola planned to hire 20,000 new professionals by 2023. In the last year alone, over 1,700 young people under the age of 30 had joined the company. Mr. Sáenz de Miera strongly encouraged young people to acquire skills and knowledge for the promotion of the green economy, both to secure a transition to decent work and to contribute to a better future.” Meanwhile, green policies remain important for private and public organizations alike. In support of the Spanish government’s efforts towards a just transition, Iberdrola is currently closing its coal plants in the country.
“If we do not have a just transition, we will not have a transition at all”.
Mr. Gonzalo Sáenz de Miera, Director of Climate Change and Alliances, Iberdrola

Dr. Daniel Cerdas Sandí, Advisor at the Labour and Employment Promotion Office of Mexico City, underlined the need for governments to help companies that are transitioning to greener industries. Just transitions will require governments’ dialogue with both workers and employers for robust policies and long-term planning. Mexico City has, for example, implemented a plastic bag ban, while helping plastic producing companies through the transition to the production of plastic bag substitutes.

Mr. Ritchie Raphael, a young ecotrepreneur and founder of African Harvest discussed challenges related to soil erosion and highlighted his company’s innovative approach to using coco peat to reduce the use of natural soil. This solution provides a better alternative to natural soil and can be used in different sectors, including florist, vegetable production, gardening and livestock. Through this work, agricultural productivity is being increased while contributing to enhanced sustainability.

Recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to build back better, through climate action and the promotion of decent jobs for youth. Achieving environmental sustainability and productive employment can accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and ensure a socio-economic recovery that leaves no one behind.