Investing in policies that support nature and address climate change, disaster risk, food insecurity, and other major challenges could create some 20 million jobs, according to a UN report. At the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in Montreal, the Decent Work in Nature-based Solutions report was launched by the International Labour Organization (ILO), UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It emphasizes the need for greening the economy in a fair and inclusive manner, creating meaningful employment opportunities for everyone.
“The use of Nature-based Solutions (NbS) must not be accompanied by a rise in decent work deficits, such as the informal work, low pay, and low productivity of many workers in NbS at the moment”, said Vic van Vuuren, Director of ILO Enterprises. “The ILO’s Just Transition Guidelines provide a framework to assist us in doing this.”
In addition to protecting, restoring, and managing waters and marine ecosystems sustainably, nature-based solutions also provide benefits for human well-being, ecosystem resilience, and biodiversity. Nearly 75 million people work in NbS, 96 percent of whom live in Asia and the Pacific and lower middle income countries – even though most NbS expenditure occurs in high income countries.
Around 14.5 million full-time jobs are equivalent to NbS jobs, many of which are part-time. There are, however, challenges in measuring Nature-based Solutions employment, and the figures do not take into account job losses and displacements that may occur during implementation. The agricultural and forestry sectors account for nearly all NbS work in low and lower-middle income countries – 98 and 99 percent, respectively.
An additional 20 million jobs could be generated around the world if NbS investment was tripled by 2030 – a key step toward meeting biodiversity, land restoration, and climate goals set out in the UN State of Finance for Nature 2021 Report. “We appreciate the emphasis on Nature-based Solutions at COP27 in Sharm el Sheikh. As part of the mitigation equation, NbS host multiple co-benefits, including buffering the effects of climate change, according to UNEP’s Ecosystems Division Director Susan Gardner.