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Remarks by Ms. Amina Mohamed at the UNEP/ILO Side Event on “Green Jobs: A Chance for Youth”

Mr. Peter Poschen, ILO – Moderator of today's event

Executive Director - UNFPA

Ms. Laksmi Dewanthi -Assistant Deputy Minister for Incentive and Environmental Fund,State Ministry of Environment, Republic of Indonesia

Ms. Rosana Sousa, Secretária Nacional de Juventud Central Única dos Trabalhadores, Brazil

Mr. Songelael Wilson Shilla Senior Economist, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation United Republic of Tanzania

Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Water and Drainage of Barbados (tbc)

Mr George Zedginidze, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Environment Protection of Georgia

Mr. John Wali, Junior Award Scheme, Kenya

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

Allow me to begin by quoting the International Labor Organization (ILO) in stating that we need over 600 million new jobs in the next 10 years. Coupled with the fact that one in three unemployed persons today fall between the ages of 15 and 24 years, governments have little option but to shift priorities toward greater investment in youth. Educated youth harness enormous potential for growth and development. Failure to engage them in productive activities is a huge waste of human resources.

The green economy as an approach to sustainable development, can offer job opportunities for youth, provided policies are well designed and implemented. The new UNEP and ILO report entitled "Working towards sustainable development: Opportunities for decent work and social inclusion in a green economy" launched early this month shows that, if accompanied by the right policy mix, a green economy can also create more and better jobs, lift people out of poverty and promote social inclusion. It also demonstrates that employment and social inclusion must be an integral part of any sustainable development strategy.

This goes along with investing in clean technologies and new markets that create the demand for jobs. Skills upgrading, youth entrepreneurship promotion and greening work place practices are key components of the policy response. In addition, considering that 33.000 young people are expected to enter the job market daily between now and 2050, the degree to which this generation will be effectively integrated into the active work force will undeniably be a determining factor of the success of the transition to a green economy.

During the preparatory process leading up to this conference, the issue of the creation of green jobs and social inclusion has been consistently highlighted as a key concern for all countries. However, further attention needs to be paid to the measures required in order to specifically empower the young generation who represent a significant number of today's population, build on young people's energy and creativity to address the current youth unemployment crisis.

Since the establishment of the Green jobs initiative in 2007, UNEP and ILO have been jointly advancing the agenda for green jobs and youth, cooperating to make the economic and social case for policies and investments in favor of a low-carbon and resource efficient economy. Two joint report on green jobs have been produced, triggering a wave of demand for assistance to the creation of green jobs at country level and UNEP has been exploring how both organizations can work together to provide support to countries on the employment element of green economy. UNEP is continuing its strategic partnership with ILO to support the green jobs program in the context of the Program for Action on Green Economy (PAGE). This partnership is aimed at supporting this global transition by generating new knowledge, investment, and employment opportunities in support of a global transition to sustainability.

In addition, the UNEP long-term strategy for the engagement of young people in environmental issues, adopted by the Governing Council of UNEP focuses on awareness building, capacity building, information exchange, and facilitating the involvement of young people in decision making mechanisms.

UNEP is also one of the few UN entities that have a Youth Advisory Council - a group of young people elected by their peers to represent them in decision-making processes on the environment, as well as on development and implementation of environmental projects, networking individuals and organizations and lobbying of governments to take greater action on the environment. UNEP through the TUNZA Youth Programme reaches out to over 35000 youth organizations in over 160 countries.

Today's generation of young people is the largest in history. Nearly half of the world's population is under the age of 25, with most living in developing countries; this generation that will drive the development of a green economy. In this regard, UNEP, in collaboration with UNESCO, is currently developing a toolkit to help young people to better understand the necessary skills needed for a successful transition to a green economy. This is part of our joint Youth Exchange Initiative, which was introduced in 2001 to help promote responsible consumption among young people through education and capacity-building. This new guidebook, available this fall, highlights examples of what young people are already doing to promote a green economy, a snapshot of green jobs and green skills needed for the future, and the role of social innovation and entrepreneurship in a green economy.

It is clear from the discussions during the preparatory process that employment is a priority for all countries, and in particular when it comes to youth. Proposed outcomes have included a global strategy on youth and employment, and UNEP and ILO stand ready to support countries to take action in this respect. In this background, this event is very timely focusing on the potential of green jobs and the need to unlock that opportunity especially for young people.

We hope that this event will advance understanding of how the green economy approach could address youth unemployment as a major building block for sustainable development and poverty eradication.

I thank you for your kind attention.