Dubai: BWI pushes for migrant workers' voices and needs in climate change debate

Gathering at the occasion of the BWI-MECTD event on occupational safety and health and migration in a changing climate in Dubai, around 60 representatives from BWI affiliates in Europe, South Asia, Africa Middle East and Gulf, as well as migrant workers from various Gulf countries, exchanged with multinational companies, such as the Belgian group BESIX and French Vinci Construction, and other actors in the built environment and broader human and labour rights ecosystem, namely the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the global centre of expertise Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) and Migrant-Rights.Org, on practices and policies to promote decent work opportunities in the green transition.

Held in parallel with the COP28, BWI affiliates and migrant workers’ community representatives in the Gulf discussed workplace adaptation challenges on construction sites and for frontline communities exposed to the effect of raising temperatures, as well as solutions emerging from the ground up through cross-border social dialogue and collective bargaining with multinational companies and cooperation with multiple actors. 

In the Gulf countries, construction workers work for an average of 4 months per year under temperatures of above 50 degrees Celsius, with serious heat-stress consequences on health affecting in particularly migrant workers, whose vulnerabilities are compounded by the climate crisis. It is estimated that failure to cut emissions drastically today may result in a 370 percent surge in heat-related deaths by 2050. Making the human right to safe and healthy working environments a reality in each workplace must be a key priority in the adaption debate and actions as called for in the BWI Manifesto. 

Participants shared initiatives and agreed on ways forward to make a just and equitable transition to a net zero carbon economy based on decent work, quality jobs for all workers, reducing the safety risks at the workplace, and agreed through participatory practices with governments and employers that put workers, their needs and their voices, at the centre of any transition plan.

At COP28, world leaders agreed to prioritize the decarbonising of the building sectors by 2030. In the course of COP28 side meetings and events, BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson, President Per-Olof Sjöö, and Deputy Presidents Dietmar Schäfers and Pierre Cuppens seized the opportunity to voice the calls of workers for green and decent jobs that align with international labour standards centred on workers’ agency and representation, including freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. 


  • BWI Manifesto for healthy and safe workplaces amidst extreme heat and other weather events
  • BWI Policy Brief Protecting migrant workers in an overheating planet and relative BWI Fact Sheet
  • BWI Report on social dialogue and collective bargaining in the green transition