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Green Jobs: Giving greener choices for young jobseekers
August 31, 2011

Young jobseekers are most likely to opt for green jobs. This was the consensus of youth delegates to the 1st Philippine Green Jobs Conference held at the SMX Convention Center in mid-August.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) together with the Climate Change Commission (CCC) and the National Youth Commission (NYC), with labor group Federation of Free Workers (FFW) pushed for the creation of "green jobs" to cultivate brighter careers for the GREENeration, which is short for the green generation—a common reference to today's youth.

DOLE defined green jobs during the Conference as jobs that reduce environmental impact, contribute to climate change solutions and result not only in environmental but also in economic and social benefits to the community and to workers.

"Green jobs include those resulting from investments that adopt green technology and green industry practices. It could also be green goods and green services. Green jobs can be new or existing jobs and everybody, including the youth, can contribute to the creation and expansion of these green jobs," said Executive Director Cynthia Cruz of the DOLE Institute for Labor Studies (ILS), Green Jobs Conference Secretariat Chairperson.

In a paper published by the ILS, "From Jobs to Green Jobs: A Just Transition Framework," Cruz noted that green investments such as those in shifting the economy away from carbon-intensive energy, minimizing degradation of natural resources, maximizing the efficient use of natural capital and protecting people and the planet from pollution and waste give rise to new and more green jobs.

"New jobs to be created most likely pertain to jobs referred to as new "green-collar" occupations that emerge to support adaptation to and mitigation of the effects of climate change," said Cruz.

The Choice of the GREENeration

The GREENeration, those from ages 18 to 29, are frequently characterized as well-educated, highly motivated and socially conscious—preferring work that promotes social change, including green jobs.

"The Philippines is the most vulnerable country to climate change in Asia and the youth would want to take part in building the nation; not just as beneficiaries but as partners. Young entrepreneurs nowadays actually give green jobs to the youth," said Undersecretary Leon G. Flores III, NYC Chairperson, who was among the co-convenors of the Conference.

"As a responsibility to the future generation we have to support all green initiatives," said Atty. Sonny Matula, president of the FFW, one of the supporters of the Green Jobs Conference.

"Eighteen years ago, the Supreme Court granted the petition of 44 children based on the concept of inter-generational responsibility to stop the DENR Secretary from issuing Timber License Agreements as it was contrary to the highest law of humankind-- the natural law," said Matula in reference to the High Court decision. (Oposa vs. Factoran, G.R. No. 101083, July 30, 1993, 224 SCRA 792)

The court case was filed by children led by Anna Oposa, who was only five years old then.

"We do not need our kids to sue us in history's tribunal for irresponsibility," added Matula.

Incidentally, the same Anna Oposa who filed the landmark case, now a renowned green advocate, was one of the panelists of the Green Jobs Conference session, "GREENerations: Leading the Path to a Greener Future."

Oposa, who heads the Law of Nature Foundation and winner of Yahoo's Pitong Pinoy for her work on Save the Philippine Seas, spoke as an example of a youth with a green job.

"The Philippines is the place where the action is. Our country has more diversity on land and sea than any other place on earth. The youth can participate in simple initiatives that not only protect the environment but can create green jobs," said Oposa.

Green Jobs: A brighter alternative

"Throughout our formative years, we have been influenced by destructive environment disasters, like the Ormoc flood and Pinatubo lahar. Our generation has been fed with green doctrines that made us realize the fragile state of our environment and the urgency of action to reverse the deterioration of life and living in this planet," said Rep. Raymond "Mong" Palatino of Kabataan Partylist. Palatino was also a Conference panelist.

"Green jobs present a bright alternative because it teaches the youth that saving the environment is more than just planting trees and segregating our garbage. We can be more than just green consumers who buy green bags," Palatino said.

Palatino noted that despite the rise of green consciousness in society there is a still a dearth of course offerings that would generate and support green industries.

"To promote green jobs, we have to engage our schools, overhaul our curriculum, and subsidize the teaching of green skills," added Palatino.

He said the Commission on Higher Education should consider including green subjects that would lead to the establishment of green industries using green technologies, while the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority should integrate the same in their training programs.

"We should ask the Department of Education to include green jobs and green entrepreneurship topics in the new curriculum which is being prepared for the K-12 program," challenged Palatino.

"Successfully creating Green Jobs requires political will, commitment from the private sector, and sustained public support," added Palatino, who committed the last years of his term as party-list representative to advocate for green jobs and other environmental causes.

Kabataan, the only party-list group representing the youth sector in the House of Representatives, has a wide network of proactive young people nationwide, created under a common vision of a better future for the youth and the nation.

Co-organizing the 1st Philippine Green Jobs Conference with the DOLE, CCC and NYC are the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Department of Trade and Industry, in cooperation with the International Labor Organization. Supporting the Conference are the FFW and tripartite partners Employers Confederation of the Philippines and Trade Union Congress of the Philippines.

The ILS is the 1st Philippine Green Jobs Conference Secretariat. An attached agency of the Department, it is the policy and advocacy arm of the DOLE.

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