Daily report for 9 November 2017
ILO at COP 23
How to Build Green and Inclusive Economies to Implement the Paris Agreement
This event convened on 9 November 2017, in Bonn, Germany, on the sidelines of the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It was organized by the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) in collaboration with the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The event aimed to: explore policy innovations developed by countries to advance implementation of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; and consider perspectives from international organizations.
Stephan Contius, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), Germany, opened the session. He noted that the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda are historic agreements that could operationalize the concept of sustainability. He pointed to the emergence of sustainable and inclusive growth models following on from the Paris Agreement, which he said demonstrated that the global values of inclusivity are within reach. Contius acknowledged that, nevertheless, the structural transformation towards more sustainability might also cause social and economic disruptions in the short term, for example with jobs moving from one sector to another. He said that in this regard, it will be the task of governments to integrate those social and economic implications more effectively into policies and to make sure that the needed transformation will be in line with the guiding principle of the 2030 Agenda to “leave no one behind.”
Following opening remarks, participants watched a video depicting the implementation of a PAGE project in Mongolia.
Moustapha Kamal Gueye, International Labour Organization, moderated the discussion. Zamba Batjargal, Mongolia, informed participants that his country was the first in the world to join PAGE, because of a desire to promote green development. He emphasized that his country had not only mobilized modern technology but also incorporated traditional cultural practices into green development.
Rhoda Boateng, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), stressed that structural changes from the transition to a low-carbon, resilient economy “hold the promise of jobs creation,” but also pose significant challenges, including job losses in carbon-intensive industries. She emphasized the importance of bringing trade unions to the table to ensure that the transition takes the concerns and rights of workers on board, and achieves the just transition they are advocating for.
Philipp Ischer, Switzerland, emphasized that the green economy is at the heart of the mission of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs. He outlined his organization’s Green Economy Roadmap that envisages international cooperation, adding that his country’s engagement with PAGE supports developing countries in transitioning to a green economy.
Aik Hoe Lim, WTO, pointed out that in an increasingly interconnected world, trade plays a significant role in greening economies. He acknowledged concerns about barriers to participation in a green transition, and highlighted the WTO framework designed to address protectionism as a measure aimed at reducing these barriers.
Regina Asariotis, UNCTAD, discussed her organization’s focus on transport, noting that 60% of goods globally are loaded and unloaded in developing countries and 80% of goods traded are carried by sea. She said that this has both mitigation and adaptation implications, highlighting the importance of developing climate-resilient supply chains and promoting interdisciplinary research to identify adaptation pathways.
During the ensuing discussion, Asariotis responded to a question on how to leverage the fourth industrial revolution for a greener economy, noting that in relation to transportation, increased digitalization could provide greening opportunities, for example by reducing transport needs. On the role and opportunities for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the green economy, Lim explained that trade and technology could stimulate investment in new “climate economy” areas, promoting the growth of new SMEs; however, she cautioned against establishing “a green divide” where some countries are more able to meet higher sustainability requirements while others area left behind. Additional questions centered on: the drivers of future growth; recycling for green jobs; the differences between green development and the green economy; and how regulatory frameworks could help to avoid a green divide.