Investing in People and Learning to Foster a Climate Resilient and Green Transition

Rio+20 Side-Event on Green and Climate Resilient Learning Links Global Policy Recommendations with National and Local Action

16 June 2012 | Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

16 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Among the key recommendations of the 2012 report of Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Global Sustainability (GSP) is the importance to scale up education and skills development to advance a transition to sustainable development and a green society. Organized by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and UN CC:Learn in partnership with the GSP Secretariat, the side event entitled “Learning and Skills Strategies to Advance a Green and Climate Resilient Transition”, took place on 16 June 2012 in the margins of the UN Conferen ce on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or “Rio+20”), 20-22 June 2012. The event brought together more than 70 representatives from Governments, civil society and international organizations and was sponsored through the UN CC:Learn project funded by the Government of Switzerland.

In his welcome remarks Mr. Achim Halpaap, Associate Director and Head, Environment Unit at UNITAR referred to the growing recognition of individual capacity development in international fora and recognized the partnership with the GSP Secretariat and UN CC:Learn Partners in organizing the side-event. Ms. Veerle Vandeweerd, Director, Environment and Energy Group, UN Development Programme (UNDP), moderator of the session emphasized that the topic of the event goes to the heart of what is required to advance a green transition. “Moving to green societies is about learning and about engaging people - not only through general education, but also through formal informal and vocational education and concrete action on the ground,” Ms. Vandeweerd said.

Ms. Hajiya Amina Az-Zubair said that young people need to be engaged not as an afterthought but as a target. The event featured presentations by four distinguished panelists. Ms. Hajiya Amina Az-Zubair, Former Advisor to the President of Nigeria on MDGs, and Member of the Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Global Sustainability introduced the key messages of the report of the Global Sustainability Panel concerning human resources, learning and skills development and shared her experience from Nigeria. 

Mr. Kees van der Ree pointed out that meeting the green skills challenge requires forward looking and strategic thinking, as well as flexibility.

Mr. Kees van der Ree, Coordinator, Green Jobs Global Programme, International Labour Organization (ILO) focusedon the international dimension of the green learning and skills challenges and introduced key points from ILO research and field activities on this topic. Dr. Victor Viñas, Director of the Climate Change Office of the Minister of Environment, speaking on behalf of Mr. Omar Ramirez Tejada, Secretary of State and Executive Vice President, National Council for Climate Change, Dominican Republic presented the experience of the Dominican Republic in developing a National Strategy to Strengthen Human Resources, Learning and Skills to Advance Green, Low Emission and Climate Resilient Development. Mr. Kartikeya V. Sarabhai, Founder and Director, Centre for Environment Education, India provided insights from his experience in India to mainstream education and skills development for sustainable development in the education sector. Following the panel presentations, Mr. Ben Cashore, Professor, Environmental Governance & Political Science, Yale University, provided some thought-provoking reflections as a discussant.

The panel statements and interactive discussion raised important issues and identified several opportunities for action at the national and international levels to foster a strategic approach to learning and skills development, including the following:

  • Learning and skills development need to be included not only in national development strategies, but also into investment plans and national budgets to make sure sufficient financial resources are available for implementation.
  • Effective education and training for sustainable development requires multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder and coordination, as well as the engagement of national learning systems.
  • There is a need to scale-up knowledge-sharing on training and capacity development to promote green and climate resilient  jobs.
  • Skills shortages already pose a major barrier in transitioning to green economies. Addressing this challenge requires reform and innovation in higher education, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and continuing training, as well as active labor market policies.
  • Green jobs, in the sense of environmentally friendly and socially responsible jobs, are not only for a minority of highly-skilled workers, but also concern remote areas and disadvantaged groups.
  • A green transition does not only require technical skills, but also forward-looking and critical thinking to identify pathways for future change. 


About UN CC:Learn

UN CC:Learn is a One UN Initiative which supports Member States in designing and implementing results-based and sustainable learning to address climate change through collaboration involving UN agencies and international development partners. The 2011-2013 Pilot Phase covers five country pilot projects including Benin, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Malawi and Uganda. UN CC:Learn is included in the ‘One UN Climate Change Action Framework’ of the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) through the High Level Committee on Programmes (HLCP). To date, 32 multilateral organizations are collaborating in UN CC:Learn.

For more information please contact the UN CC:Learn Secretariat at: