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We want green jobs

Fiji Times Online (1 June 2012) - ILO says that over 600 million new jobs would be needed in the next 10 years. In particular, with as much as one in three unemployed persons today between the ages of 15 and 24 years, governments are called on to shift priorities toward greater investment in youth. Youth harness enormous potential for growth and development, as many of them are well educated. Not engaging them in productive activities is a huge waste of human resources.

Addressing a youth employment forum, the head of the United Nations labour agency last week warned of a growing disconnect between people and policy, people and government.

Many people are saying you are not taking my situation into account - this is particularly true in the case of youth and young people, whose feeling is often: OK, you talk about our issues but were not there, were not there in the process, the Director-General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Juan Somavia, said in an address to young men and women attending the opening of an ILO Youth Employment Forum in Geneva.

Unemployment and underemployment are major concerns for youth around the world. Today youth globally are three times more likely to be out of a job than adults.

ILO says that over 600 million new jobs would be needed in the next 10 years. In particular, with as much as one in three unemployed persons today between the ages of 15 and 24 years, governments are called on to shift priorities toward greater investment in youth.

Youth harness enormous potential for growth and development, as many of them are well educated. Not engaging them in productive activities is a huge waste of human resources.

The United Nations Rio+20 Earth Summit this month has the potential to stimulate vast new investments in the green economy and generate good, green jobs for youth. For the last few weeks we have been writing about what sustainable development is, the story of Rio+20 and its significant impact on our future. Let us take a quick look back to remember key points for Rio+20. The conference taking place in Rio de Janeiro from 20-22 June will revolve around two main themes:

(i) The Green Economy in the context of Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development

(ii) The Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development

Now, lets return to the issue of how we can effectively address youth unemployment. Economy refers to the whole set of production, distribution and consumption of goods and services in a country or in the world. Sustainable development encompasses an economic pillar which is a crucial factor in ensuring income generation and sustained human activity and jobs.

The system of economy that the world currently uses is called the brown economy.

The brown economy is an economy that lacks respectful use of environmental resources and provides enough wealth for communities to live well. The future of sustainable development depends to a large extent on whether we can move from a brown economy to a green economy.

The resources we have on Earth are limited. Current practices use more resources than is healthy for the planet. Collectively, we prevent a large section of the world from enjoying the benefits of economic growth. Our economic growth pollutes nature, aggravates social inequality and erodes fertile land. We desperately need to change the pattern of our economy and our consumption. Changing our economy to one that is green is an important part of the Rio+20 agenda. A green economy can help us to eradicate poverty and ensure sustainable development.

It is generally agreed that a green economy should include low carbon emissions, resource efficiency and social inclusion.

The green economy as an approach to sustainable development may offer job opportunities for youth, provided policies are well designed and implemented. This goes along with investing in clean technologies and new markets that create the demand for jobs. Skills upgrading, youth entrepreneurship promotion and greening work place practices are key components of the policy response.

I cannot get a job without experience. But I cannot get experience without a job! says Rahul, a young graduate from Sigatoka.

Over 75 million youth worldwide are currently looking for work. Millions of jobs in key sectors would need to transition into more sustainable practices within a green economy. These jobs would also directly benefit young people struggling to find employment. Building a green economy is especially relevant to children and youth.

Future generations are more likely to face shortages of food, water and energy, if we continue to operate in the way that we do.

As young people, we are all concerned with growth, development, income, and jobs. Were way more affected by unemployment than our parents generation are. Green jobs can provide meaningful work for a generation so affected by unemployment. This is the chance for us to take control of our future, lets not let it go to waste.

Right now politicians are in a pickle. They want to solve youth unemployment, rescue the economy and sort out climate change. How can they do all this at once? Creating green jobs can get us back on track to cut carbon, get loads of people back into work and safeguard our future. Some say we cant afford to green the economy right now. The youth say we cant afford not to.

A youth discussion forum organised at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in Suva two weeks ago heard that addressing youth unemployment was also one of the sustainable development concerns of the Pacific Island youth and that green jobs was one of the ways to address this.

The young people need to reconnect with the vanua and learn from their elders the ways of sustainable lives they lived being connected to nature, said Rosiana Lagi, one of the participants at the youth discussion forum.

Our education system also needs to be changed to favour education for sustainable development, she added.

Clearly, there is no path toward a greener economy in 2030 if those that are entering the workforce now are still given brown economy education and training. Our future has to be shaped by us so that it can be sustainable. Young people are the ones who will need the skills and education to keep the future fairer, greener and cleaner.

We have everything to gain from doing this sustainable employment, cheaper transport, cleaner cities but our generation is going to have a lot of work to do to make the future ours. So wed better get started now and build the world we want to inherit.

The growth of the green economy has the potential to help youth in developed and developing countries alike. It is universal: Failing to invest in youth is a false economy.

nKrishneil Narayan is the Executive Director of Project Survival Pacific. Project Survival Pacific is a youth environmental organisation that works to safeguard the survival of the Pacific island people from the impacts of climate change and to promote sustainable development within the Pacific.

For further information and clarification, please contact Krishneil on +679-9462206 or e-mail krishneil.narayan@youthclimatecoalition.org.

Source: www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=202735

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