Philippines: A Whole-of-government Approach to Creating Green Jobs
Photo credit: Chris Dela Cruz/getty
The Philippines is taking a national, comprehensive approach to a just transition through its 2016 Green Jobs Act. Also in 2016, it launched pilot implementation of the International Labour Organization’s Guidelines on Just Transition towards Environmentally Sustainable Economies and Societies, including consultations with a range of stakeholders such as government agencies, the private sector, employers’ and workers’ organizations and development partners.
The Philippines is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change, and one of just eight countries to have a nationally determined contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement that is compatible with keeping global warming below 2 degrees C. As of November 2020, the country was not on track to meet its commitment, but the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with a moratorium on new coal power plants announced in October 2020, could significantly reduce emissions. The Philippine government has also put in place a comprehensive climate policy agenda, integrated with the Philippine Development Plan. The Climate Change Commission is the government’s lead policy-making body focused on climate, including just transition and green jobs.
As of 2011, 9.3 million Filipinos worked in the high-emissions sectors of electricity, gas, water, mining and manufacturing. Workers’ rights are not guaranteed in the Philippines, with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) ranking the country in the second-lowest of six categories in 2020. Over the past decade, however, an ongoing partnership with the International Labour Organization has laid the foundation for a just transition focused on the creation of green jobs. Studies including “Green jobs and green skills in a brown Philippine economy” in 2010 and Green jobs mapping study in the Philippines in 2014 built the evidence base for policymaking.
Policies, Actions and Results
In April 2016, the Philippines passed the Green Jobs Act (RA 10771) to promote sustainable growth, create decent jobs and build resilience against climate change through incentives to businesses generating green jobs. The Act defines green jobs as “employment that contributes to preserving or restoring the quality of the environment,” which must also be “decent jobs that are productive, respect the rights of workers, deliver a fair income, provide security in the workplace and social protection for families, and promote social dialogue.”
The Green Jobs Act provides specific financial incentives for green job creation, including tax deductions (equivalent to 50% of total cost) for skills training, research and development for green jobs, and tax-free imports of capital equipment that would be used directly and exclusively to promote green jobs.
Building on its partnership with the ILO, the Government of the Philippines also joined Ghana and Uruguay in a pilot implementation of the ILO’s “Guidelines on Just Transition towards Environmentally Sustainable Economies and Societies,” which the ILO had adopted in October 2015. The Philippines pilot ran from June 2016 to December 2017, with financial support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and the Regular Budget Supplementary Account (RBSA) of the ILO. The project included national consultations, training for trade unions and capacity-building, with an emphasis on building and sharing knowledge among existing platforms and constituents.
In connection with this pilot, the Philippines conducted social dialogue on the Green Jobs Act with stakeholders including workers and employers’ representatives. As a result, the Green Jobs Act Implementing Rules and Regulations, published in September 2017, included an emphasis on the need to “pursue a just transition for all, job security for workers affected by the transition process which drives economic prosperity, decent job creation, sustainable and resilient livelihoods and communities, poverty reduction and social justice, anchored on social dialogue and tripartism at all levels.” The Act also included a list of 15 government departments and agencies that have a role in implementing the act, attesting to its integrated, whole-of-government approach.
The pilot achieved its objectives to support Philippine constituents, including government, workers and employers’ organizations, in creating an enabling environment for sustainable enterprises to prosper and create decent work opportunities (particularly by operationalizing the Green Jobs Act), as well as building a tested interventional model and best practice examples that other countries could emulate. An extended list of outcomes is available here, with some of the more notable outcomes including:
- Establishment (and active functioning) of a mechanism for cooperation among key government agencies, social partners, and key stakeholders and experts.
- Capacity-building of government and social partners, enabling them to measure green jobs and analyze environmental, economic and labor market linkages.
- Forums to facilitate the integration of results from various studies into policymaking and the development of relevant national frameworks (including the Philippine Development Plan, the National Green Jobs Human Resource Development Plan, and the NDC).
- Development and implementation of a green jobs promotion strategy, including capacity-building for Green Jobs “champions” and development of knowledge products.
In May 2018, the Climate Change Commission partnered with the ILO to hold a multi-stakeholder consultation with representatives from the government, the private sector, employer and workers’ organizations and development partners. The goal was to share information and gather input on several policies and systems, including the financial incentives in the Green Jobs Act, the Green Jobs Content Accounting Protocol and Green Jobs Certification Process (which would standardize accounting of the number of green jobs created by an enterprise) and the Standards for Green Products and Services (which would determine whether a product or service was considered green or conventional). The consultation also aimed to agree on an approach and timeline for sectoral consultations. A draft study was produced, followed by pilot testing. Implementation of the system is ongoing.
- Strong national policy foundations and coordinated implementation: This includes cooperation among ministries, policy guidelines provided by the ILO and technical and financial support from international partners.
- Consultation and social dialogue: A wide range of stakeholders were consulted while developing the Green Jobs Act, its associated rules and regulations and other relevant policies.
- Whole-of-government approach: These efforts align with other national policies and priorities, since the government of the Philippines has stated its intention to shift the entire country onto a path towards sustainable development and low-emissions growth, which creates strong signals and political will for action across levels of government and sectors.
Challenges and Gaps
- Lack of worker protections and social safety nets: The Philippines’ historical lack of strong labor rights and social protections is likely to weaken the foundation for a just transition.
- Barriers to green businesses: Businesses and policymakers reported concerns about difficulties accessing technology and expertise to implement green projects, increased capital costs and the lack of a strong business case for sustainable enterprises. There is a need to demonstrate how green technology can make businesses more competitive, attract customers and make a profit, and how just transition initiatives lead to improved socioeconomic outcomes for workers, including marginalized groups.
- Lack of public awareness of climate change: Limited public understanding of the impacts of climate change or the benefits of green job creation, especially at the community level, posed challenges for policymakers and businesses alike. Better data and tailored communication tools may be needed to create local buy-in and increase capacity for local project implementation.
- ILO. 2017. Pilot Application of Policy Guidelines on Just Transition towards Environmentally Sustainable Economies and Societies for All in the Philippines (Just Transition). Geneva: International Labour Organization.
- ILO. 2018. Implementing the Just Transition Guidelines In Asia And The Pacific – Lessons From The Philippines’ Pilot. Policy Brief No. 1, Environmental Sustainability and Employment for Climate Resilience in Asia and the Pacific. Geneva: International Labour Organization.
- Republic of the Philippines. 2016. Republic Act No. 10771: An Act Promoting the Creation Of Green Jobs, Granting Incentives and Appropriating Funds Therefor. Manila.
- ILO and Sida. 2018. Final Report 2016–17. Sida-ILO Partnership Programme 2014-17: Phase II, 2016–17. Geneva and Stockholm: International Labour Organization and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.