17 October, 2005 Paris/Nairobi – The power and influence of organized labour is being enlisted in the battle for planet Earth.
The first global Trade Union Assembly on Labour and the Environment is to take place at the Kenyan headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), it was announced today.
Klaus Toepfer, UNEP’s Executive Director, said: “The notion that there are tough choices between jobs and the environment is out dated as this important Assembly shows”.
“Indeed, environmental management and tackling environmental issues can be a source of new and cleaner industries and jobs. Take global warming as one example. Industries that reduce their dependency on fossil fuels by being more energy efficient can save on fuel bills making them more competitive in the market-place,” he added.
“New, climate friendly technologies such as renewable energy, fuel cells and energy saving measures and gadgets are also spawning new businesses which in turn mean more and alternative employment. Trades Unions have an important role to play in this, helping to push employers to raise the environmental standards of goods and services and environmental health standards in the work place,” said Mr. Toepfer.
Trades unionist from across the globe will be attending the historic Assembly which is scheduled to take place between 15-17 January 2006 where they will adopt recommendations and commitments on labour, the environment and sustainable development.
The Assembly will also be known as WILL 2006 because, at the event, Trade Unions will be launching their Workers’ Initiatives for a Lasting Legacy.
An interim website to foster these Workers’ Initiatives and promote and prepare for the Assembly is available at www.will2006.org.
“Workers and their Trade Unions have the political will to make a great positive difference for the preservation and restoration of the environment”, said Guy Ryder, General Secretary of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU).
“We are committed for two main reasons: because as the social agents at the fore-front of the production chain we can have a unique concrete and positive influence, and also because where workers sit they are too often the very first victims of environmental risks. Decent work for sustainability is a key to the social dimension of sustainable development,” he added.
Debates and recommendations at the Assembly will cover issues ranging from the implications of global climate change for the world of work and the prevention of hazardous chemicals in the workplace up to occupational, public and environmental health, Trade Unions actions for equal and sustainable access and management to resources and services and Trade Unions and worker participation in environmental governance, and corporate social responsibility and accountability.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) will participate in the Assembly and representatives from Governments, the business sector, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and all other major groups are also being invited.
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UNEP News Release