This report addresses the challenges of achieving environmental sustainability and turning the vision of decent work for all into a reality. While it is certain that environmental degradation and climate change will increasingly require enterprises and labour markets to react and adjust, the goal of environmentally sustainable economies will not be attained without the active contribution of the world of work.
The environment and social development must no longer be treated as separate pillars of sustainable development, but as closely interrelated dimensions. Such an integrated approach turns the drive towards environmental sustainability into a significant avenue for development, with more and better jobs, social inclusion and poverty reduction. Positive outcomes are possible; these, however, require county-specific policies that seize the opportunities and address the challenges identified by integrating environmental, social and decent work elements and ensuring a smooth and just transition to sustainable economies. The opportunities for gains may in fact be greatest in developing countries and emerging economies.
It is now evident that a decisive turn away from the business as usual policy scenario of “grow first and clean up later” is urgently needed. Most international policy institutions, among them the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Bank and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have made urgent calls for a change of direction. The need for an integrated approach has been articulated further by the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development 2012 (Rio +20), which also highlighted decent work as a central goal and driver for sustainable development and a more environmentally sustainable economy.