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The Madrid dialogue on Rio+20 with the High Level Panel on Global Sustainability

WECF director Sascha Gabizon moderated the session on Rio+20 Policy Outcomes during the Madrid Dialogue organised by SustainLabour and other partners in Madrid on 12 of April 2011

12.04.2011 |

Green Economy and Decent Work: A new paradigm for employment, social inclusion and poverty eradication in a sustainable planet

High level dialogue between leaders of the labour movement, the UN High Level Panel on Global Sustainability (GPS) and leaders from other social movements took place in Madridwhere the trade union movement begins its preparations for the 2012 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Sustainlabour has organized the Madrid Dialogue to begin to put forward proposals for building spaces for mobilizations.

Enough with addressing economic, social and environmental challenges as conflicting issues! There are policies with which we can advance on all fronts, among these policies on employment and social inclusion. The High Level panel was created by Ban-Ki Moon with the mandate to offer solutions for the integration of these challenges which is why we have proposed to discuss three key issues: taxation, social protection, and green and decent jobs.

Let's build together! We have just over a year to define a movement that calls for real change in Rio, for this reason we have also invited environmental, development, women's and industry organizations to advocate and build together.

International trade union leaders meeting today in Madrid with the UN Panel on Sustainability and business and ngo representatives are calling for decisive and ambitious climate action in the lead-up to the Durban climate summit at the end of this year, and the “RIO+20” meeting in 2012. The union proposals are centred on a tax on financial transactions, a universal social protection floor, doubling the number of green and decent jobs and ensuring a just transition to a greener future.
« This dialogue is a first step in the mobilisation of the trade union movement towards Rio+20,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow. “We share with the Panel the responsibility of ensuring the Rio Summit delivers on concrete actions which will reduce inequalities, create decent jobs, save the climate and protect the environment.”

“The current economic model is heading us towards more crises, unemployment and environmental degradation”, said Zwelizima Vavi, General Secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). ”If we are serious about addressing the vulnerability of poor workers and communities, RIO+20 needs to shift from piecemeal commitments and deliver a universal social protection floor, which will ensure dignified livelihoods for all. The climate negotiations in Durban must support this effort through the protection of the poorest from a climate perspective: with ambition in terms of emission reductions and climate finance”.
At the Madrid meeting, organised by Sustainlabour, trade union leaders are meeting the “Sherpas” of the UN sustainability panel, CEOs from Oxfam, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the International Wind Energy Council, and UN agencies ILO and UNEP.

Further Quotes from labour leaders in Madrid:
“Workers in Brazil and around the world will be proactive in the preparations for the Summit in Brazil, said Artur Henrique, President of CUT Brazil. “Even if we could guarantee our national government commits to prosperity, equality and environmental protection, this will not suffice for ensuring sustainable development: We need to transform the development and growth paradigm, and this can only be done at the international level; the Summit is an opportunity to make it happen”. “When we look at the situation today in the UK and in Europe, we realise that fiscal consolidation is being used to introduce more unfair taxation systems and undermining public services, said Frances O’Grady, Deputy General Secretary of the UK Trade Union Congress (TUC). “RIO+20 can make a difference in the path towards a new fair and green taxation policy, notably at the international level, through the creation of a Tax on Financial Transactions, or Robin Hood Tax, which could generate revenue for the transition towards a green economy”.

“A green economy based on rights, sustainability principles and decent work can meet the challenge of our societies, said Ambet Yuson, the General Secretary of the Building and Woodworkers International (BWI). “We need the investments for these jobs to be created, and we need the regulations to ensure they are a first step towards the transformation of our societies. A just transition, as the one unions are calling for, need to be based on the transformation of all jobs into sustainable ones, and workers in all sectors, including construction and forestry, will support them.
« The UN Panel has made clear that the inputs from labour leaders are necessary to build a sustainable world and we are glad to convene these dialogue. The inclusion the concrete proposals just mentioned in the Panel’s work will influence the capacity of the RIO+20 Summit to decide on ’out of the box’ ideas » said Laura Martin, Director of Sustainlabour, who was the organiser of the Madrid Dialogue. “We will maintain our commitment to this process and do our utmost to ensure union’s voices are loud and clear in the run up to Durban and RIO+20.

Sascha Gabizon commented, "we need to take note on best practices presented on assuring that women can fully take part in the transition process to a green and equitable economy. For example, India has legislation on women in policy making: in all local and regional authorities, 33% of the seats are reserved for women. An evaluation of the effect of this shows that this has lead to much better local investments, and a further increase of women's elected representatives to 40%.

Also India is currently looking at how to implement the right to Food, and a key issue is that women should be designated as the head of the household receiving the food support (grain) and nutritional supplements, based on evidence that giving food support to women assures it arrives in the community and reduces child malnutrition.

A complete programme of the event can be found on the Sustainlabour website

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