Because of their potential to deliver multiple socioeconomic benefits while also combating climate change and addressing biodiversity loss, NbS “are increasingly seen as a way to meet the objectives of several global agreements”.
The report finds that increasing investment in NbS “in synergy with a just transition framework can leverage their potential as a driver for green jobs and decent work”.
The International Labour Organization (ILO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) issued a report that examines the potential of Nature-based Solutions (NbS) to contribute to decent work and green jobs and to the achievement of national and global climate and biodiversity targets.
Titled, ‘Decent Work in Nature-based Solutions 2022,’ the report highlights that because of their potential to deliver multiple socioeconomic benefits while also combating climate change and addressing biodiversity loss, NbS “are increasingly seen as a way to meet the objectives of several global agreements,” including the UNFCCC, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), as well as SDGs 8 (decent work and economic growth), 15 (life on land), and 14 (life below water).
It defines NbS as “actions to protect, conserve, restore, sustainably use and manage natural or modified terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems, which address social, economic and environmental challenges effectively and adaptively, while simultaneously providing human well-being, ecosystem services and resilience and biodiversity benefits,” as per the UN Environment Assembly’s (UNEA) March 2022 resolution.
However, the report acknowledges that “not all NbS work is decent work,” and points to the need to understand the full range of benefits NbS can deliver, along with the potential risks if they are not properly implemented.
Recognizing that there are “many challenges to estimating the number of current jobs or total employment in NbS,” the report suggests that almost 75 million people are currently employed in NbS, mostly working part-time, of which the vast majority – 96% – are in Asia Pacific and lower-middle income countries (LMICs). Total employment is estimated at approximately 14.5 million full-time equivalents (FTE) – a number that could more than double if, by 2030, investments in NbS are tripled to achieve climate change mitigation, biodiversity, and land restoration goals, which would generate an additional 20 million jobs (16 million FTE). As per the report, the majority of NbS work in Asia Pacific and Africa is the agricultural sector.
The report finds that increasing investment in NbS “in synergy with a just transition framework can leverage their potential as a driver for green jobs and decent work.” It calls for transition skills policies to unlock investment in education, re-skilling, and up-skilling. This, it argues, could build long-term capacity to improve employability in NbS, enhance productivity, contribute to gender equality by promoting a better gender balance in transition-affected occupations, and help overcome decent work deficits, among other benefits.
The ILO, UNEP, and IUCN launched the report in the margins of the UN Biodiversity Conference, on 8 December 2022. The publication is the first in a joint global biennial report series on how transitions to a green economy will affect the world of work, including the role NbS can and do play in creating employment, especially for the poorest and the most vulnerable. [Publication: Decent Work in Nature-based Solutions 2022] [Publication Landing Page] [UN News Story]