Just Transition: NLC canvasses accurate data, reskilling of workers in vulnerable sectors

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By Michael Oche

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has reiterated the need for critical data on how many workers in Nigeria are vulnerable to climate change especially the shift from fossil fuel economy to green energy economy particularly in the entire conversation of net job loss and net job gain.

The Congress said it is important to empirically establish this data to be able to determine appropriate public policy interventions that would be needed to reskill, upskill, or provide social protection for workers who might not be able to catch the green energy economy train.

This formed parts of recommendations canvassed by the NLC as part of its participation at the COP28 which held in Dubai last December.

The Congress also said there is need to create more awareness on Just Transition especially on a sector-by-sector basis given the high risk of job destruction and job losses in the key sectors of the economy identified.

NLC Comrade Joe Ajaero during his presentation at the COP28, noted that it is in light of these concerns that the NLC Research on Just Transition in Nigeria’s seven priority sectors became very crucial.

The priority areas include: Health, Sanitation and Human Settlements; Food and Nutrition (Agriculture); Manufacturing; Energy and Transportation; Disaster Risk Management/Environment, Water and Blue Economy; and Forestry, Wildlife and Tourism.

Ajaero averred that the climate crisis is about a real planet, real people, real workers, and real communities, cautioning that the findings of the Global Stocktake Report considered at COP 28 shows that the world is still behind in reining in global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius.

As part of the recommendations, the NLC called for reskilling and upskilling of workers especially those whose work are in the most vulnerable sectors is now non-negotiable.

“Specific and general data on the extent of vulnerability should inform future job training planning and budgeting by both government and employers in the private sector of Nigeria’s economy. Training for future green jobs will help the country to avoid the impending demographic and industrial danger that looms on the transition pathway from fossil fuel to green and renewable energy economy.

“Future proof adult learning systems to help those who are at the tail end of their work life to adjust to the green economy.

“There is need for increased investment in sustainable agriculture in a way that uses agricultural inputs more effectively and efficiently. Sustainable agriculture is very critical given the expected jobs risks in the agricultural sector as the impact of climate change worsens,” the statement noted

The Congress also recommended that it is important for government and the private sector to increase investment in renewable energy projects, green infrastructure, afforestation and conservation, and circular economy initiatives in order to protect current jobs and create the future green jobs.

It reads fuether, “Government should prioritise strengthening social safety nets and social partnerships through effective community engagement and consultation, small and medium enterprise support and commitment to sustainable green technology transfer and innovation.

“Workers in the informal economy which constitute majority of the Nigerian workforce should be prepared for green jobs through well-tailored active labour market policies and skills acquisition programs.”

Our Correspondent reports that this is the first time that NLC since her participation in the Conference of the Parties since 2009 held a Side Event at the COP 28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The Side Event which was held at the Nigerian Pavilion was themed “Justice for Workers in the Just Transition”.