COP21, SDGs, Recommendation No.5: Ensure those in Poverty Benefit from Green Jobs

Here we present the fifth of ATD Fourth World’s five videos for the COP21 ­ Paris Climate Conference. Xavier Godinot, ATD’s Director of International Advocacy, explains in the introduction to each video:

What ATD Fourth World seeks is that sustainable development fully integrate the components of economic development, efforts to end poverty, and protection of the environment. These three aspects must absolutely be interlinked and coordinated. Now, we hear that a lot in international discourse. We see that it’s a lot harder to put into practice on the ground.

Each video illustrates with grassroots examples one of ATD Fourth World’s five recommendations that are key for tailoring development and climate action to the needs of the most vulnerable. In this video, Recommendation 5: In transition to green economy, ensure those in deepest poverty receive employment and training.

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You can read more about our five climate change solutions linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and poverty eradication in Taking seriously the commitment to “leave no one behind” in the SDGs and the fight against climate disruption.

From ATD’s memorandum, “Taking seriously the commitment to ‘leave no one behind’ in the SDGs and the fight against climate disruption”

Video Summary
The fifth proposal of ATD Fourth World, is to ensure that in the transition to an economy more respectful for people and the earth, those in deepest poverty receive opportunities for training and employment.

Allover the world, there are people in extreme poverty living on landfills. As part of their daily lives, they find objects, then recycle and resell them. In doing this they create new products. But the problem is that the jobs and trades they create often don’t allow them to escape poverty. So to help these people out of poverty there needs to be an investment of capital. In France, ATD Fourth World started the company ‘Work & Learn Together’, a computer recycling business and that has a mix of people working in it – those with engineering degrees and those in extreme poverty. Through Work & Learn Together, ATD Fourth World created jobs with stable employment and social protection.

ATD Fourth World feels the same needs to be done in Guatemala. There ATD Fourth World is in contact with people who salvage in landfills and create products from what they find. The risk that ATD Fourth World sees, is that when large companies invest in recycling, they do so with enormous capital, but often this is done in conjunction with evicting the communities who live and work at the landfill. This is what ATD Fourth World saw in Vietnam. A positive example is Brazil, where landfill salvagers are organized, and their unions powerful. The salvagers succeeded in obtaining capital that let them keep control in the companies they created when those same companies became profitable.

Another very important issue for ATD Fourth World is in the insulating of existing buildings and homes to save energy. This is an important job creation opportunity. But these new jobs and trades should be made accessible to those in deepest poverty. Another point with the better insulating of homes, does this mean higher rents that force out those with less means? This is a good example of how solutions can work against the most vulnerable.

ATD Fourth World sees lots of opportunities that a necessary transition to a greener economy, respectful of the environment can provide, but also the traps. This is why it’s important that those living in deepest poverty be involved in the debate when it comes to solutions to climate change. That those in deepest poverty have a place at the table is a great chance. The risk ATD Fourth World sees, is if appropriate mechanisms to protect those living in poverty are not put in place.