Green jobs and youth employment must be top priorities

THE Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call for action in areas of critical importance to humanity and the planet by 2030. Also known as Agenda 2030, the United Nations-sponsored initiative declares, among other things, a determination to end poverty and hunger and commitments to “ensure that all human beings can realize their potential in dignity and equality and in a healthy environment… [and] that all human beings can lead prosperous and fulfilling lives and that economic, social and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature.”

One of the critical areas is job creation, an essential component of poverty reduction and sustainable economic and social development. According to the United Nations, it is crucial to provide decent jobs that guarantee income and empowerment of the poor, especially women and young people.

Progress has been made, but crisis after crisis in recent years has led to reversals, which were detailed in the just released 2022 Sustainable Development Goals report. The Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and conflict, among others, are said to have created “indirect impacts” and the report highlighted “areas that require urgent action in order to save the SDGs and achieve meaningful progress for people.” and the planet by 2030″.

Here in the Philippines, the passage of Republic Act 10771, or the “Green Jobs Act of 2016,” was aligned with the 2030 Agenda. carbon and resilient emissions and the creation of decent jobs by offering incentives to companies generating green jobs. The focus was on human capital development as well as technological research to enable and support the transition to a greener economy.

The law said it was state policy to identify needed skills, develop training programs, and train and certify workers for jobs in a range of industries that produce goods and make services for the benefit of the environment, conserve natural resources for future generations and guarantee the country’s sustainable development and its transition to a green economy.

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Green jobs as defined by law refer to jobs that contribute to preserving or restoring the quality of the environment, whether in agriculture, industry or services. This includes jobs that help protect ecosystems and biodiversity, reduce energy, material and water consumption through high-efficiency strategies, decarbonize the economy, and minimize or completely avoid production. waste and pollution. Green jobs are jobs that are decent, productive, respectful of workers’ rights, ensuring a fair income, ensuring safety at work and social protection for families, and promoting social dialogue.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, on the other hand, sees the young people of today as the leaders of tomorrow. However, the economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic have hit the sector hard. A report by the Asian Development Bank said young people, who make up less than 15% of the workforce in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, accounted for up to 45% of job losses at the height of the pandemic in 2020.

In the Philippines alone, the youth unemployment rate was 13.4% in November 2021, which translates to nearly one million young Filipinos out of work. While unemployment in the Philippines can be attributed to reasons such as overcrowding, an oversupply of labor in certain industries, and the inability to take up available jobs, it has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

Quite clearly, tackling youth unemployment is a pressing concern for the Philippines and perhaps ASEAN as a whole. It requires urgent action before it becomes a full-fledged problem.

The role of young people in economic activities cannot be denied. Designing and producing products, selling services, paying taxes, making consumer choices, critiquing marketing and saving money are some of the ways young people contribute to the economy. Through education, action and empowerment, youth and the economy can drive social transformation and engagement in a variety of ways.

As President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr. prepares to deliver his first State of the Nation address this Monday, July 25, it is crucial that youth participation and employment be seen as a top priority that will lead to building a strong, resilient and inclusive recovery. Giving young people a place in political conversations and harnessing their resilience, creativity and ideas should become the norm, not the exception.

The need to have a common goal of investing in our young people by creating green jobs will build their confidence now and for their future endeavours. Prioritizing youth employment will strengthen social cohesion and translate into greater economic benefits.

The author is executive director of the Young Environmental Forum and a non-resident fellow of the Stratbase ADR Institute. He completed his Climate Change and Development course at the University of East Anglia and an Executive Program in Sustainability Leadership at Yale University. You can email him at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @WiggyFederigan.

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