Peter Poschen

Peter Poschen is the International Labor Organization (ILO)'s department Director of the Job Creation and Enterprise Development. He is one of the main authors of the latest Green Jobs Report: Working Towards Sustainable Development. In an exclusive interview with the Global Journal, Mr. Poschen told us about the policies promoted by the ILO. On World Environment Day, we were inspired by his positive message for a greener future.

Can you give some concrete examples of the changes or help you are giving to countries that are interested in green jobs?

The assistance we are providing is very context-specific. It depends on what is needed, the sectors that are prioritized in a specific country and the government’s intentions

South Africa adopted a new growth strategy, “the new growth path.” That strategy has a number of components. One of them is to look at the opportunities for green jobs. We worked with the South African partners who were trying to assess the potential: how many jobs could be created and where? We provided feedback on their analysis and we are helping to put in place some of the measures they have decided on. The South Africans think that they can create 460,000 green jobs or so by 2025.

Similarly, we have been working with the Chinese government. There, we have a very large and active program to promote entrepreneurs: small business creators. They were very interested in extending this to green businesses. We have created a green program that helps anybody who wants to be an entrepreneur – of whom many are young people – to look at green business ideas, green products and services that they could potentially build their business around.

In Chile, we are working with the government in the reformulation of their waste management laws, with the goal of including informal waste pickers – who exist in Chile like many other countries. This is a large number of people; the risk is that if you change laws, you exclude these people and marginalize them more than they are already. Instead of marginalizing these groups, they can become part of a modern and much more efficient recycling system.

Do you work more at the local or national level?

We have been working at all levels, and are participating quite actively at the international level.

Perhaps the most important level for us is the national one, where we can influence national policy and help national stakeholders to understand and make better decisions.  In Asia there is a regional network, a “community of practice”. We do get involved locally in areas where we need to try something, and where we do not have ready-made solutions. We need to make sure our policy advice actually works!

Are you optimistic or pessimistic that countries will change before it is too late?

It is very difficult to arrive at an international agreement. What I find encouraging is that many of the emerging economies – Brazil, China, South Africa, increasingly India and Indonesia – are seeing the need to do this. They are moving. So, that gives me hope.

(Photo © ILO/M.Crozet)