Greening the economy can be stimulus for employment, especially for youth, says T&T’s Labour Minister
15 May 2012
“Greening the economy could be a major stimulus for much-needed employment, particularly for our youth, as it will involve large scale investment in new technologies, equipment, buildings and infrastructure,” stated the Hon. Errol McLeod, Minister of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development, Trinidad and Tobago.
“The green economy has become an emblem of a more sustainable economy and society that preserves the environment for future generations,” continued Minister McLeod.
Minister McLeod was addressing participants at the opening ceremony of the three-day workshop on “Developing Policies and Programmes to promote green jobs and green enterprises in Trinidad and Tobago” on 7 May 2012 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port of Spain. The workshop was hosted by the Ministry of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development with the technical support of the International Labour Organization.
“It is no secret that we face diminishing oil and gas reserves. As a result, it is imperative that we employ initiatives to promote a green and sustainable economy. Through the implementation of green technology and alternative energy, for example, the use of the solar system and wind, we will significantly reduce our carbon footprint”, said Minister McLeod.
The Minister indicated that at the domestic level the Ministry of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development and the Ministry of Finance have identified the green enterprises sector as one of the important platforms for economic diversification, poverty alleviation and job creation; it is a development that is aligned with the Framework for Sustainable Development Agenda of the 2010 People’s Partnership Election manifesto. With respect to the creation of green jobs, he emphasized the importance of adequate policies, such as retraining of skills or employment services to facilitate the reallocation of labour, as green jobs span a wide array of skills, educational backgrounds and occupational profiles.
Initiatives that the Government intends to undertake to shift towards a greener economy in Trinidad and Tobago according to the Minister include the establishment of a Solar Manufacturing Complex, the creation of a National Wind Resource Assessment Programme, the utilization of green building technologies in the transformation of the Invader’s Bay waterfront and investment in the provision of retail dispensing of compressed and liquefied natural gas for reducing the use of gasoline fuel.
Also addressing the opening were Mr. Carl Francis, Permanent Secretary, and Mrs. Joy Persad-Myers, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development, Dr. Giovanni di Cola, Officer-in-Charge, ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean and Kees van der Ree, Coordinator of the ILO Green Jobs Programme.
Dr. di Cola, in his remarks at the opening, stated that green jobs are decent jobs that reduce consumption of energy and raw materials; limit greenhouse gas emissions; minimize waste and pollution; and protect and restore ecosystems.
He indicated that the tripartite training was timely since the issue of green jobs was critical for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) such as Trinidad and Tobago. These included activities also related to the OSH day on greener economy in Trinidad and Tobago and the recently signed Decent Work Country Programme of Guyana which has as its first priority a low carbon development strategy encompassing green jobs and decent work. Dr Di Cola commended Trinidad and Tobago for its involvement in the Rio+ Conference and the fact that Trinidad and Tobago would be placing the issue of green jobs as part of the Decent Work Agenda in its document for the Rio+ Conference in June.
Mr. Kees Van der Ree who also spoke at the opening disclosed that the future challenge for Trinidad and Tobago as a Small Island State, is to increase efficiencies, to do more with less and to control and minimize environmental degradation.
In addition to facing a growing global environmental challenge – with climate change, resource scarcities and polluted living spaces – he alluded to the fact that we were also facing a global economic and social crisis with unemployment and underemployment rising over the last few years.
“If we want to reach higher levels of sustainable development, employment-led strategies must be part and parcel of the deal, “ stated van der Ree. “A green economy cannot grow and succeed if it does not deliver productive and decent jobs for all. This is how green growth connects to development and equity. “
The workshop addressed ways to assess the current and potential number and type of green jobs, including the specific sectors with potential for going green, such as waste management, manufacturing, agriculture, health, education and tourism.
The wide representation of participants from various Government ministries, state agencies, and employers’ and workers’ organizations allowed for a sharing of policies and programmes being undertaken by each ministry and organization as part of greening the economy. These included the National Integrated Business Incubator System (IBIS), the Green Fund, and the Community-Based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme (CEPEP).
The workshop was facilitated by Kees van der Ree, Coordinator, ILO Green Jobs Programme, ILO, Geneva; Paulo Sergio Muçouçah, Coordinator of Decent Work and Green Jobs Programmes, ILO Office Brasilia; Alice Vozza, ILO’s International Training Centre, Turin; and Kelvin Sergeant, Specialist, Sustainable Enterprise and Job Creation, ILO Office for the Caribbean.