Minister for Labour Productivity and Industrial Relations Hon. Jioji Konrote at the Asia Pacific Ministers of Labour meeting in Geneva this week. PHOTO:SUPPLIED
The Minister for Labour, Productivity and Industrial Relations Hon. Jioji Konrote addressed the Asia-Pacific Ministers of Labour this week on the impact of climate change on employment.
Minister Konrote said that the important reforms spearheaded by the Fijian Government on health, education and infrastructure, had limited meaning, if the people of Fiji were in danger of losing their land from under their feet. He said that the impact of climate change, and the intensity of natural disasters, had led Fiji to embrace a developmental agenda with incorporated the impact of climate change and natural disasters in the national development agenda.
Addressing Ministers of Employment of the region, he said;
“In our discussions with the international community we emphasise three things in particular; one, that we are not the responsible for the negative impacts of climate changes which our people are suffering from; two, that the collective conscience of the world must now push ahead to place a meaningful, and legally binding check on carbon emissions; and three, that where the damage is already done, solutions must be found for the loss of land, lives and livelihood.”
He told the meeting of the relocation of Vunidogoloa village;
“As a result of the impact of climate change, the entire village has been relocated to higher ground. What happens to labour then, when you push a fishing community to land where there is limited access to the sea and to traditional fishing rights? There is an immediate loss of income, as a result of the loss of livelihood. Worse, rising sea levels affect tourism, and agriculture. Certainly in Fiji, our economy depends on both tourism and agriculture.”
He said that some countries justified no or limited action on climate change, by referring to job losses as a consequence of more responsible industrial behaviour. He said however that;
“There needs to be a balance in thinking about short term and long term economic development. The future of work is surely in areas of green growth industries, in areas that provide long term sustainable means of industrial development. The world advances most when challenged the most, and the greatest challenge of the day is to maintain economic development in a manner that secures our future in the face of climate change.”
He said that there were significant job losses as a result of natural disasters and climate change, and that the Green Growth Framework, recently launched by the Prime Minister of Fiji, had demonstrated the feasibility of responsible and environmentally sensitive industrial development. He said;
“We have discovered this in Fiji, and are committed to a framework for national growth which reflects the need for job creation and economic growth but within a Government and private sector responsibility for the maintenance of a clean environment. We are not responsible for the rising sea levels, and the polluted land, water and air. But as a responsible nation State we are doing our best to reduce our own emissions to the best of our ability. In doing so, we are acutely aware of the close relationship between climate change and the availability and conditions of employment. We can and must do more to ensure the future of work in face of this challenge.”