A move for transition to green jobs in the quest for decent work was the reason stakeholders drawn from the public and private sectors, civil society organisations, converged in Abuja to deliberate on, at the instance of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment with the support of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Strategic approaches to creating sustainable green jobs that could also bridge gaps in entrepreneurship in Nigeria, was in the forefront of the presentations snd discussions.
The one-day stakeholders forum has as its theme: An Alliance for Green Jobs Creation Strategic Approach Towards Large Scale Green Job Creation Linking Entrepreneurship and Skills Development in Nigeria.
While the deliberations lasted, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, criticised Nigeria’s over dependence on oil, gas as well as wood, stressing that contemporary researches has shown that those energy sources were no longer sustainable.
He butressed his claims, by stating that in Nigeria, the current economic growth model is highly vulnerable since it is based on only two major unsustainable energy resources: Wood, and Oil & Gas.
Ngige, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Ms. Daju Kachollum said wood and gas are primarily produced through deforestation and a highly unsustainable high rate of natural resource consumption.
Beyond this, he argued that Nigeria faces waves of severe impacts of the climate change phenomenon, such as the rising frequency of climate induced disasters; increased numbers of eco-migrants, with the attendant large numbers of internally displaced persons; high level degradation of the ecosystems; and significant pressures on agricultural production.
According to the Minister, there are increasing numbers of vulnerable communities who are impacted by floods, weather disasters, wild winds, heat waves, and the attendant insurgencies and insecurities driven by citizens who have been displaced from their normal means of livelihood.
Other vices he mentioned includes social unrests caused by climate induced unemployment; health and health-care challenges, due to diseases and health conditions caused by climate degradation, air pollution and uncontrolled emission of the Green House Gas (GHG).
He also told participants that other consequences resulting from this include massive erosion of the biodiversity; as well as increasing food insecurity with negative effects on morbidity and mortality rates.
The Minister also submitted that the massive number of unemployed and underemployed youth, with skills that do not meet the demands of the changing job markets and the needed enterprise development for self-employment, are linked to the misalignment of educational curricular and the skills needs of the workplace.
According to him, the current labour market is heavily dependent on the unsustainable wood and oil & gas economy, with significant jobs engaged in collecting woods, charcoal production, transport, retail and bulk trades.
“Obviously, these jobs are unsustainable because they rely on felling of trees which is going on at faster rates than the rate of tree planting for replacement, with rapid desertification of the eco-system, and other associated environmental disasters,”Ngige submitted through his representative.
To wriggle out of the quagmire, Ngige said the national economic diversification must be anchored on not just the sectors that are climate-smart and have the high potential for large scale job creation, but on those sectors with capacities to contribute significantly to reduction in air pollution and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission, with improvements in biodiversity and wealth creation for the nation.
He advised that innovation and climate smart approaches, must be channelled to agriculture and agro-processing, forestry and the firewood industry, fish production, and energies, among other sectors.
Meanwhile, President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, lauded the ILO for being instrumental to the birth of the initiative ably supported by the social partners in Nigeria.
While noting that the blind fold on the matter of Climate Change has been removed by recent and repeated episodes of natural environmental disasters happening all around us, he said that every part of the world has in recent times had their fair share of such disasters.
“In Nigeria, we are dealing with a deluge of flood waters which has ravaged more than 34 states of the federation. Precious lives, properties, livelihoods, jobs and investments have been lost to the rising waters leading to a call by a cross section of the citizenry for the declaration of a National Emergency on this year’s flooding.
“All these are clear signs that Climate Change is here and we must all rise up to its challenge. The Alliance for Green Jobs is one of the possible ways to rise up to the challenge of Climate Change. I say ‘possible’ because Green Jobs by themselves are not enough to catalyse the shift from practises that harm the environment and lead to climate change.
“Green Jobs must be sustainable in order to cure the deficits that drive the global fossil economy. Sustainable Green Jobs can only be created through the machinery of Just Transition.
“Just Transition is a gift to the global climate change discourse from the working people of the world. Just Transition is a climate change response philosophy that demands that the shift from fossil fuel carbon intensive economy to a production and consumption system that is less-carbon intensive, clean, and sustainable must be driven by social dialogue in order to ensure the creation of adequate and decent green jobs in a manner that leaves no worker behind.
“Virtually all the sectors of the economy would need to make certain Just Transition adjustments in order to create decent green jobs. Yet, it appears that this demand is heaviest on the energy, mining, food systems, industry, manufacturing, supply chain, construction, and transportation.
Wabba said that there is also need for changes in individual preferences and consumptive habits to patterns that are sustainable.
Country Director (Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the ECOWAS), International Labour Organisation (ILO) Ms. Phala Vanessa, said that currently, climate change is arguably the greatest challenge faced by mankind, with its significant impact on the environment, society and human health.
Speaking further, she said that a careful and consistent effort is required to ensure that opportunities from interventions actions are effectively maximized for the benefit of humans.
“We also bear in mind that setbacks caused by the COVID 19 pandemic and the current global economic crisis has further toughened the task of implementing climate change actions, however, we are aware that Nigeria has remained committed to the agreements made at COP 26.
“The good news today is that the opportunities offer by climate change actions are being maximized in creation of green jobs. This brings us to why we are here today, to share with you our esteem partners and stakeholders, the proposed Alliance for Green Jobs. An Alliance for entrepreneurship and skills development, for massive Green Job Creation for Nigerian youths and women. This is built on the Paris Agreement which highlighted a just transition and decent work as essential elements to responses to climate change.
“The proposed green jobs alliance has been developed in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, with the support of ILO. We remain optimistic that this alliance will contribute to strengthening the resilience of our local economy and expansion of opportunities for decent job creation. Considering the increasing unemployment in the country, this initiative has become extremely important and has placed emphasis on our collective actions and commitments.”
Chairman, House Committee on Labour and Employment, Hon. Ali Wudil, said that as the world is moving into green energy, Nigeria needs to transit into green jobs.
He however, pledged to give every legislative backing to ensure that Green jobs are achievable.