ETUC Resolution Rio+20: Strengthening the social dimension of sustainable development
At its meeting in Brussels on 19-20 October 2011, the Executive Committee of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) adopted a Resolution on Rio+20: Strengthening the social dimension of sustainable development
1. Twenty years on from the first Earth Summit in 1992, poverty has increased in absolute terms, half of the world’s workers work in insecure conditions, unemployment is at record levels, and harmful greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are continuing to rise together with our unsustainable use of energy and resources, threatening biodiversity and global calamity if action is not taken urgently. This reality makes success at the Rio+20 summit of key importance to revitalise the sustainable development agenda internationally, in the face of the current economic crisis.
2. The Rio+20 summit will be focused on reviewing progress since 1992 alongside 2 key themes: 1) A green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and 2) the institutional framework for sustainable development. Broad-based civil society involvement is needed to ensure all elements of sustainable development are pursued consistently and fairly. Social consensus is only possible with the full engagement of all civil society actors, including social partners, and the recognition of the specific role of trade unions and their members as both workers and citizens.
3. The ETUC fully endorses the position taken by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) to focus attention on the strengthening of international institutions and 3 key international demands: the creation of a universal social protection floor, the financial transaction tax, and a global target of at least 50% increase in ’green and decent’ jobs by 2015.
4. Meanwhile, Rio+20 must be grasped as an opportunity for the EU to revitalise its own sustainable development strategy through a strengthening of the European social and employment dimension, the promotion of economic and employment security, and recognising the essential importance for social cohesion played by social dialogue and collective bargaining.
5. This resolution sets out the ETUC’s demands in this regard towards the EU and national representatives negotiating agreements in advance of the summit and the December publication of the report to prepare the summit from the High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability (HLPGS), chaired by Finnish President Tarja Halonen.
6. At Rio+20, the ETUC calls for:
• The inclusion of ‘Just Transition’ and ‘Decent Work’ in any concluding text or agreement, linked to a mandate for the ILO on implementation, and the creation of a universal social protection floor to ensure this Just Transition;
• The adoption of a global target of at least 50% increase in ‘green and decent’ jobs by 2015. One means of achieving this goal could be a Global Energy Efficiency and Renovation Programme.
• The strengthening of UNEP through its transformation into a new UN environmental organisation, based on multi-stakeholder involvement, and the creation of a high-level Sustainable Development Council reporting directly to the UN General Assembly, on the basis of an international system for measuring progress on sustainable development goals to be agreed at Rio+20, including the adoption of adequate indicators to measure sustainable development;
• The creation of a global financial transactions tax (FTT), and the adoption of the European proposal for a European FTT, to provide a credible and stable financial framework to support sustainable development policies (notably, global poverty eradication, tackling climate change, and ensuring social justice);
7. At European level, the transformation of our economies and the promotion of the greening of all activities and jobs will demand a long-term policy and investment agenda. This policy agenda must go beyond the short-term constraints of stock-market reporting and political election cycles. European political decision-makers must:
• Go beyond the Europe 2020 strategy and promote a stronger agenda for sustainable economic growth in Europe based on sustainable investment programmes and job maintenance and creation, reinforcing the social, environmental and economic dimensions equally;
• Adopt a European Just Transition Roadmap, including the promotion of social dialogue and worker rights and participation on sustainable development, EU targets on quality job creation and transformation, and initiatives on the anticipation of change (e.g. through substantial training initiatives and information and consultation procedures);
• Mainstream sustainable development inside the EU and its Members states by implementing the horizontal clauses foreseen in the Lisbon Treaty on gender equality, social protection and environment (articles 8, 9 and 11 from the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union), involving Ministries responsible for Employment and Social Affairs and Industry, as well as the social partners through the promotion of social dialogue on sustainable development;
• Recognise the importance of public authorities, regulations and public budgets for the delivery of sustainable development policies, particularly in guaranteeing universal access to water and universal services, as well as strengthening the role and use of social and environmental criteria in the revision of European public procurement rules;
• Press forward financial market re-regulation and supervision, abolish tax havens, tackle tax evasion and review investment treaties to ensure sustainable public finances; in order to change the allocation of investment risk internalising the external environmental and social costs and promote sustainable investments in energy and transport infrastructure modernisation and decarbonisation. This implies a calculation of the value of CO2 to ensure the reduction of GHG emissions by a factor of 4 by 2050 (on 1990 levels);
• Press for increased EU ambition on energy and resource use, through binding energy efficiency and energy saving targets of at least -20% by 2020, the promotion of greater resource efficiency and responsible waste management;
• Reorientate the EU general budget, as well as reinforcement of the Structural and Regional Funds, while ensuring ex-ante and ex-post evaluations of loans from the EIB and EBRD, conducted in line with social and environmental criteria;
• Create European and national Ombudsmen for future generations, tripartite Sustainable Development Councils, and/or parliamentary or independent Commissions for Future Generations.
The UN’s decision to adopt the major theme of ‘A green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication’, should not be seen as a “business opportunity” for the richest countries and companies. Rather, the theme should be tackled to address the challenges of ensuring public and private investment flows to the South, as well as ensuring the investment and policy needed to achieve sustainable development in the North. In the poorest countries, there is a massive challenge of capacity building across civil society, requiring investments in the public realms of health, education and welfare, at the same time as low carbon “green economic growth” programmes are being developed. In this sense, the “green economy” is only part of the wider challenge that Rio has to address. A “Just Transition” to the green economy is about recognising and planning fairly and sustainably for the significant challenges that sustainable development, climate change and fairer resource management policies pose for the whole of society.
ETUC resolution and Annexes for download
To download the ETUC Resolution and Annexes, please click on the icon below.
Was this article interesting and relevant for you? Do you have any comments?
You can post a reply to this article here.