BWI pushes for “worker-centred just transition” at first Global Forum on Buildings and Climate

At the first Global Forum on Buildings and Climate in France, co-organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and supported by the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (GlobalABC), the Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) advocated for a worker-centred approach to transitioning to a low-carbon economy in the buildings sector. Highlighting the sector's significant contribution to annual carbon emissions, discussions at the forum gathering around 1, 000 representatives from governments and other public and private stakeholders focused on accelerating decarbonisation and enhancing resilience within the built environment.

During a session led by the International Energy Association (IEA) and BWI on "Decent Jobs in a Changing Climate: Skills and Capacity Building for an Inclusive and Just Transition," the importance of including workers and frontline communities in the decarbonisation process was emphasised. Excluding workers' voices could undermine democratic societies by increasing fear and insecurity.

BWI advocated for governments and employers to recognize workers as agents of change and key contributors in the transition to a low-carbon economy, stressing that involving workers in decision-making processes, particularly in areas like skill development, is vital. BWI pointed out that workers possess unique insights into the industry and the skills that are needs at the workplace, that are indispensable for the success of sustainability initiatives on training, upskilling and reskilling of the future and current workforce. The session also featured representatives from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), BESIX Group, Climate Champions, Institute for Human Rights and Business, the Green Building Council, EuropeOn, and government representatives as panelists and resource persons, underscoring a broad engagement across sectors in the dialogue.

The Global Forum concluded with the first global commitment to accelerate decarbonisation and bolster resilience efforts in the buildings sector, solidified by the endorsement of the Declaration of Chaillot. This should mark the first attempt to align global efforts towards achieving decarbonisation targets in the built environment.