International Organisation of Employers (IOE)
- Date submitted: 25 Oct 2011
- Stakeholder type: Major Group
- Submission Document: Download
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About the IOE
The International Organisation of Employers (IOE) is recognised as the only organisation at the international level that represents the interests of business in the labour and social policy fields. Our mission is to promote and defend the interests of employers in international fora. To this end we work to ensure that international labour and social policy promotes the viability of enterprises and creates an environment favourable to enterprise development and job creation. Today, the IOE consists of 150 national employer organisations from 143 countries from all over the world.
In line with our mandate we will focus, in this contribution, on the social pillar of sustainable development. The IOE has been working with other business organizations, such as the ICC and the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (BIAC), and we endorse and support their submissions on the broader conference themes.
The IOE view of the purpose of RIO+20
The IOE supports a balanced discussion of social elements in the discussion topics to be taken up in Rio+20 and believes that the conference must
deliver an appropriate institutional framework to enable conditions for the transition to the current concept of a ?green economy‟, monitor and respond to the evolution of the ?green economy‟ and eradicate poverty. It must look to practicalities, learning and experience, to enable action and empower the relevant actors to deliver renewed commitment for sustainable development.
set up clear measures and means to allow stakeholders to monitor the assessment of progress to date and enable them to identify and provide solutions for the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development and achievement of the millennium development goals.
set up clear measures and means to allow stakeholders to monitor, identify, prioritise and propose solutions to address new and emerging challenges.
Business and industry is one of 9 ?major groups? recognized by Agenda 21, and engaging employers in the RIO+20 processes is essential to the pursuit of sustainable development. Business and employment creation provides not just skills, technological and innovative developments and finance but also inclusive livelihoods capable of transforming social systems.
What progress has been made, what remains to be done.
The 3 dimensions of sustainable development require that all policy developments and activities should be analysed pre and post implementation for their potential and actual impact on the economy, the environment and social infrastructure. That way we can follow whether policy developments had their desired impact and make appropriate adjustments to keep on course to achieve targets.
The aspirations of previous conferences on Sustainable Development and achievement of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) have not yet been met. But as well as some setbacks, there have been many recent positive developments, capable of delivering solutions. There has been a major increase in scientific information, public awareness and involvement on environmental issues, largely because of the development of internet communications. Many nations have developed economically, socially and environmentally, providing them with new powers, along with which come new roles and responsibilities. Future economic growth is likely to be fastest in emerging economies, and if well managed, can help lift the majority of their people out of poverty.
How business can help deliver the solutions
Business will be key to providing the solutions to the interlinked challenges of
meeting the expectations of improved living standards for a growing world population and
at the same time not degrading the economic, environmental and social systems on which they depend
Many employers recognize and have risen to the challenge of sustainable development by controlling emissions and resource uses from their products, services and operations. Voluntary business initiatives and innovative solutions for resource efficiency, emission control, waste management, protection of ecosystems, food and energy security, renewable and low carbon technologies are being commercialized and shared.
Business to business partnerships via multinationals and their supply chains will help diffuse the information and technologies. However in order to do this in a fair and equitable way businesses will have to work with governments and international governance bodies to develop instruments and incentives, sensitive to market needs and set the enabling conditions for investment and innovation, including rule of law, sound science and risk, open markets and trade and protection of intellectual property rights. Critical long-term policy and market frameworks are being developed in many influential inter-governmental discussions and it is vital that these frameworks and their implementation support economic prosperity and growth, job creation and livelihoods. Job creation, in particular, is a critical path out of poverty, and more urgent than ever in the current economic situation.
The green economy as the solution
The themes of RIO+20 postulate that if the challenge is the gap between what has been achieved and what needs to be achieved, then the solution is the green economy. The IOE believes that if the green economy is to be the solution to the challenge to be addressed by the conference, of delivering sustainable development and the MDGs, then it has to be structured to do so.
Solutions to these challenges will come from business initiatives, products and services facilitated by policy measures that promote the right kind of growth. Economies need to be able to secure growth and development, while at the same time improving human well-being, providing sustainable jobs and enterprises, reducing inequalities, tackling poverty and preserving the natural resources on which we depend.? this is what is implied by a green economy. However the green economy will evolve as technologies and economies develop and provide other challenges and solutions. It will be a dynamic process requiring continual review and revision as the concept of what constitutes a green economy shifts over time.
Understanding the green economy
Employers believe that the first challenge is for the concepts of the ?Green economy‟ and ?Green jobs‟ to be more clearly understood and have resonance with and endorsement by all stakeholders
The green economy cannot be divorced from the economy in general and green jobs are reliant on other jobs. Ordinary people need to be able to see what it means and that it means something different and better than the economic model they have now. They need to understand how their current model can move towards the concept of a green economy and have a clear idea of some of the policy and practice tools needed to get there.
Employers have risen to their crucial role in influencing policy measures to structure a framework conducive for enterprises to deliver sustainable jobs, economically viable products, processes, services and solutions that promote a greener economy. They also play their part in informing consumers of what actions, products and services will help deliver a green economy.
The priorities to achieve a green economy
Moving towards a green economy requires resilient enterprises and communities who are able to withstand the inevitable natural and man-made shocks that will occur in the future. They will enable challenges to be transformed into economic opportunities, not only reversing negative environmental trends, but also driving future growth and jobs. This will facilitate the preservation and investment in the assets of key natural resources. It will enable the use of low-carbon and resource efficient solutions and increasing efforts to promote sustainable consumption and production patterns. All this involves greater business involvement in establishing the right regulatory frameworks, creating strong incentives for markets and innovation, leveraging financial resources, and promoting entrepreneurship.
The green economy offers opportunities to all countries, irrespective of their level of development and the structure of their societies and economies. While in many cases investments to move towards a green economy can result in short-term win-win solutions, in other cases a medium to long term perspective will be needed and transitional costs will have to be addressed. These may require support for developing nations and SMEs
Priorities for future action resulting from RIO+20
The IOE believes that the future should be aimed at action, based on an analysis of what needs to be done, how it can be done and by whom. The development of a suitable green economy, requires addressing the following priorities
Building resilience for enterprises and communities
Establishing efficient use and sustainable management of key resources
Developing well-functioning markets and effective regulatory conditions
Improving governance and stimulating private sector involvement
The IOE will focus its efforts on strengthening the social pillar of sustainable development by Building resilience for enterprises and communities and look at how the other priorities support this.
Building resilience for enterprises and communities Resilience to deal with uncertainty
Examination of the existing plans to move towards sustainable development and achieve the Millennium Development Goals shows that the world must be ready for the unexpected. Whilst many projects will go to plan, as the expected has been anticipated and factored in, some plans will always be knocked off course by natural disasters, financial or political turmoil, resource scarcities or supply chain and service disruptions. Employers seek to minimize disruption and maintain sustainable enterprises, jobs and economies, whatever the challenge. Resilience is seen as an active approach of using the available tools to take responsibility for one‟s own enterprise, community and self, in sustaining and developing wellbeing, competences, resources and entrepreneurship to adapt and thrive in a fast-changing and uncertain world, giving governments, enterprises and individuals the means of turning uncertainty, risk and turmoil into opportunity.
Realizing a green economy, that in itself will also evolve, will require a low-emission society that offers substantial opportunities, ensures growth and sustainable development, based on innovative technologies and more sustainable production and consumption, while ensuring sustainable enterprises and jobs.
To face the uncertainties involved,
Governments need access to resources and expertise to plan for, not just implementation, but also disruption, disaster and recovery
Enterprises need the versatility and flexibility to unleash their innovative technologies and service and the skills and creative potential of all their employees.
Individuals need jobs and opportunities that enable them to develop and use their competencies, skills and creative potential to the full in their work and in their communities
People encouraged to develop problem solving, creativity, and team or community building in a high-trust environment are more likely to respond to change as an opportunity rather than as a threat. They need to be provided with the skills, knowledge and experience needed to deal with it successfully. Individuals, their workplaces and wider society are highly interdependent, so national governments and regional authorities have a key role to play in helping to support and develop enterprises which promote resilience for their workers and communities.
Health and wellbeing
The sustainable management of resources, such as land, agriculture, forests, water and the oceans are underpinned by ecosystems and biodiversity, which determine the longer term resilience and health of the environment are major factors contributing to the wellbeing of people necessary as a foundation for their resilience.
Solutions to many of the challenges of sustainable development as well as disaster aversion and recovery are trans-boundary and need to be addressed at the regional and international level. Governments, international organisations and businesses need to coordinate their resources and expertise in times of crisis.
Just as jobs have a direct relationship to economies, then green jobs are seen to have a similar relationship with green economies. This is important as considerable sums, within recent economic stimulus packages, have been earmarked for green growth and green jobs. Policy decisions, measures and funding to address green issues are now so extensive that they have a direct effect on business decision making and will affect enterprises of all sizes and sectors. Enterprises need to understand the funding implications, the sources and how to access the funds.
Business will be the key to providing solutions to climate change and environmental concerns and new industries developed solely as a response to these challenges will owe allegiance to other technologies and businesses. New jobs ? green or otherwise- will mainly be created by the market, to satisfy market needs and utilise innovative developments. It should be recognized that green jobs and green technologies will rely greatly on all jobs and technologies and the distinction will become even more blurred in the future.
The green economy should aspire to full employment for all, whether it is returning to full employment post-economic crises or creating employment to overcome poverty. Policies aimed at creating so called green jobs should not come at the cost of a net reduction of jobs across the overall economy, nor should such policies create temporary, unsustainable jobs or those that reduce productivity or have unacceptable working conditions.
Skills, education and training
In order to operationalise the green economy concept, there is a need for society to build competencies for resilience and for enterprises to have access to the right skills for the right jobs. The moves to greener economies will mean all skills requirements will be affected to a greater or lesser extent. Human capital, the quality of jobs, and generational shifts also need to be addressed.
Without the necessary skills and know-how, a transition to a green economy will not be possible. Economic policies need to be aligned with labour policies to equip employees with new skills and help create new job opportunities. A thorough analysis is needed on a regional basis of the demographics, state of current and potential economic development and the major skills requirements needed to move that region from where it is now to a greener economy.
Government, employers, education and training providers and individuals need to work in partnership to benefit from a continuum from education, training and lifelong learning. It is necessary to build and develop resilience into the economy and population so that they are capable of dealing with change.
Establishing efficient use and sustainable management of key resources Holistic life cycle thinking
The efficient use and sustainable management of key resources will require holistic life-cycle thinking and will be a long term effort with no certainly defined end point. There is a growing awareness of the benefits of ecosystem services, efficient resource and waste management, for businesses and society at large, and of the potential of investing in natural capital for the green economy.
Managing key resources
People‟s livelihoods rely on resources such as water, energy, land, agriculture and marine food sources. Especially in developing countries, the lack of access to quality resources, as well as the inability to manage them sustainably, are important underlying causes of poverty. Where the sustainable management of these resources become the economy's key growth markets they can underpin future economic development, create jobs, alleviate poverty and embed resilience in the population.
Developing well-functioning markets and effective regulatory conditions Framework for open markets and trade
A number of market and regulatory conditions need to be put in place to enable and direct growth in the above areas. Such enabling conditions are not only key to promote environmental objectives, but also to ensure predictability, resilience and equitable treatment for business. They also provide a sound basis for investments and fostering eco-innovation through new technologies and new ways of working.
Open trade and investment are critical enablers of technological dissemination and financing that will be required to move to greener economies. Policies to promote green economy concepts should be incorporated into domestic and global markets in a way that promotes competition within open markets on an equitable basis.
Innovation for the solutions to move to a green economy requires major progress in the development and deployment of key technologies, better use of existing knowledge and technologies across sectors and geographical boundaries, and increased international and public-private co-operation. It will also require the institutions and framework to foster such development, key of which is appropriate recognition and protection for intellectual property rights
Governments should avoid choosing winners and losers, and refrain from using regulations that benefit certain sectors to the detriment of others. Well-intentioned measures focused on improving environmental performance and generating employment may not necessarily create lasting employment and may introduce sector distortions that should not be seen as a substitute for long term job creation through the market. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) need equitable treatment to be able to access the expertise and finance needed for making the necessary investment.
There are opportunities now to green enterprises and the current economy, using tools and facilities already available, as a step en-route to realizing the full benefits of the transition to a greener economy. Governments should provide appropriate incentives (ranging from information, demonstration, application, taxation, incentivisation, regulation) so businesses in all sectors and consumers will see the practical benefits of adopting resource efficient and lower carbon-intensive practices.
Regulatory instruments should be objective seeking and well-structured to maximise compliance and minimize unintended consequences. They should be combined with market-based instruments (such as taxes, tradable permits and environmental subsidies) which are flexible and cost-effective tools that can help achieve combined economic, social and environmental objectives. Fiscal reforms that shift tax burdens from labour to environmental impacts can create highly visible incentives that send messages to society to influence their behaviour and provide win-win outcomes for employment and the environment.
Financing and investment
To enable the transition to a global green economy, large scale financial resources will have to be mobilized to help finance flow towards and in the green economy. Such policies should provide clear, legally-binding, long-term signals wherever possible. This will require action by all countries, international organisations and banks and will require a significant change in approaches to financing, enabling countries to make use of innovative public and private solutions. Access to finance and venture capital coupled with a favourable regulatory environment is crucial to stimulate eco-innovation, environmental technologies and green SMEs.
Improving governance and stimulating private sector involvement Measuring progress
Progress towards a greener economy will benefit from development of transparent measures and indicators that make sense in societal, economic and environmental terms, at the level of individual enterprises and at national, regional and global levels. Reporting requirements should not add further burdens on business but should be part of a rationalization process for the development of indicators to be used alongside Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Improving governance
It is widely recognized that current governance structures need significant reform to help deliver sustainable development, make economies greener, eradicate poverty and measure and track progress. There are several options to strengthen sustainable development governance within the UN organizations involved, either by strengthening the mandates of the main players or enhancing the scope of one to give it overarching responsibility. All options have advantages and disadvantages, and will have to be further discussed, but the outcome should be defined by minimizing duplication of effort and maximizing coordination and efficiency in the delivery of the objectives.
Sustainable development governance needs to be reinforced and mainstreamed within the UN system, by enhancing coherence and policy integration between the activities carried out under the economic, social and environmental pillars. Dedicated teams focused on sustainable development should ensure regular interaction between and within organizations. Corresponding regional, national and local structures also need attention with new roles and responsibilities defined for emerging economies.
Today, ?Green Economy‟ remains an aspirational concept. As it evolves elements of greening economies may require new governance procedures. The UN governance structures should be regularly reviewed to ensure they are fit for purpose. Stimulating private sector involvement and partnerships
Moving towards a green economy is a shared, cross-sectoral, and economy-wide challenge which no actor can achieve on its own. The green economy needs to provide the governing structures and platform which allow new and transformative partnerships, involving business, to be shaped and activated. They should recognise that business plays a crucial role in the social and economic development of a country. Prosperity is contributed largely by activities of business, including jobs, investments, technologies, products and services that drive the changes and innovations needed to move towards a green economy.
A greener economy depends on an engaged and incentivized private sector working in alliance with the public sector to create essential knowledge, skills, and to promote a continuum of life-long learning, technology, investment and financing required. In particular, boosting the participation of business will be essential. Business operates in supply and value chains, many of which are global and have influence beyond national governance structures. Achieving improved conditions for transparency and integrity in doing business in all countries is of paramount importance for private and public sector actions.
Measures to green businesses and contribute to green economies is most efficient and effective if they are aligned and integrated with other business systems and initiatives. Many businesses have already made significant progress in making their operations more resilient and resource efficient. They have excellent examples of good practice to share. Business involvement needs to be taken further through more dynamic public/private partnerships, new business networks and alliances.
Achieving the Objectives - Key messages
All countries and players have to work together to make sure that the outcomes of Rio+20 can meet our global challenges. In particular the business community must be empowered to put in place emission-reduction and resource-efficient technologies and solutions that create jobs, that raise standards of living, and that address major environmental problems. To give renewed impetus to achieving sustainable development and eradicating poverty, Rio+20 needs to involve business in Creating a shared vision that is understood, endorsed, publicized and actioned by all stakeholders on
what is the current visions for a green economy
what changes are needed to get there
what tools and policies will be available to use
how success can be measured and publicized at the international level Developing cohesive action plans at all levels
These will need to be developed at enterprise, community, national and international levels. Actions should build on existing efforts and could be incorporated into national economic and development strategies, also bringing together low carbon strategies and sustainable consumption and production plans. Where needed, donor countries and international organisations could provide assistance, in line with national development strategies. Measuring effectiveness of policies and actions for all pillars of sustainable development
All policy developments and activities should be assessed pre and post implementation for their potential and actual impact on the economy, the environment and social infrastructure Focusing on the issues identified as requirements for a green economy
Building resilience for enterprises and communities
Establishing efficient use and sustainable management of key resources
Developing well-functioning markets and effective regulatory conditions
Improving governance and stimulating private sector involvement
the following specific actions, where business has particular leverage, are proposed as contributions to the action plans.
Developing skills and training for the enterprises of the future
As the transition to a green economy will create jobs and replace others, the re-skilling of the existing workforce will be needed. Rio+20 should establish the main elements for green skills training programmes in priority areas such as energy, agriculture, construction, natural resource management, waste and recycling. Based on this work and the analysis of the likely effect of the transition to a green economy, Governments, training providers and businesses should identify
o What skills will be needed for future business architecture,
o What programmes have to be put in place to develop those skills
o How will the workforce, that do not have those skills, be managed
Youth and community training programmes are also needed. These should support life-long learning and the school-to-work transition with specific training and competence development on the green economy in mind. Developing partnerships for making key resources sustainable
Many private companies are involved globally in the delivery of water supplies of the appropriate quality for the task. Water management and water governance needs to have firmer linkages to economic as well as environmental aspects. This could be achieved by establishing international partnerships on water involving public and private-sector enterprises and governments.
Similarly partnership involving governments, public and private-sector enterprises must be established to increase energy access, achieve secure energy supplies, promote renewable energy and energy efficiency and leverage private investment for a low carbon economy.
Frameworks should be developed to ensure protection of intellectual and physical property rights and provide access to the fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from the utilisation of genetic and other resources.
There is an urgent need to promote sustainable agriculture and forestry, land-use and food security by involving businesses more closely in strengthening existing initiatives on sustainable agriculture, building on multilateral actions (such as the FAO), regional activities (such as sustainable farming). There is merit in establishing new partnerships on food commodities involving business to make the consumption and production of food commodities more sustainable.
Now is a good time to establish a more robust and coherent international regime on chemicals and hazardous substances and Rio+20 could launch a process to achieve this. Businesses should be involved in the design of such a regime building on their experience of existing initiatives.
All these challenges will involve business in scientific and technological cooperation at the global level and a mechanism for greater global science and research cooperation on societal challenges of global importance should be put in motion.
Achieving well-functioning markets
Business should assist in the development of well-designed domestic and regional market-based instruments with a view to reducing emissions at least cost. Such instruments may also play an important role in generating innovative finance.
Financial Institutions should play a strong role, working with private financial institutions to commit to establish green economy financing strategies that can lead to demonstrable results. An important focus of these financing facilities and schemes should be to assist developing countries, vulnerable regions as well as SMEs. Improving governance and stimulating private sector involvement
Better and more efficient global governance in needed to accelerate global action towards a greener and more sustainable economy, greener and more sustainable jobs and to eradicate poverty. As businesses are the engines of the economy, Rio+20 must strengthen and formalize the engagement of business in the variety of partnerships and schemes proposed. The arrangements should address the special needs and realities for employers in developing countries and vulnerable regions, particularly SMEs and should provide opportunities for capacity building between groups in developed and developing countries.