Fighting for climate justice for food, farm and hotel workers in the face of climate change

The climate crisis puts the lives and livelihoods of millions of food, farm and hospitality workers at severe risk. As the planet warms, farming practices, food and beverage processing, trade and tourism must change and adapt. The IUF and its affiliates demand to be part of the solution, to negotiate with employers, governments and international institutions.  Rights, decent jobs and sustainable communities are at the core of the IUF response.

Living generations of world citizens are witnessing significant changes in weather patterns that have had mounting affects on the peoples of all regions. The changes in weather are the outcome of a rapidly changing climate which is caused by excessive greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions which are warming the atmosphere and causing intensive and more frequent floods, storms, droughts and wildfires along with rising sea levels.

The intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) regularly collects and compiles data from the world’s climate scientists on the level of GHG emissions, their effect on global temperatures and global scenarios for the future climate depending on how fast emissions can be reduced. The scientific consensus is that we must rapidly reduce GHG emissions to avoid catastrophe.

While all regions are affected, the Caribbean and Africa can be highlighted to illustrate the enormity of the challenges we face.

Noting that in most Caribbean States, the largest population centers are coastal and the main economic activities are based on agriculture and tourism which employ sizable portions of the population and provide food and income.

Recognizing that more frequent and powerful hurricanes, droughts, floods with related inland erosion, coastal erosion due to the sea level rising, damage and bleaching of coral reefs, dying seaweed (mainly sargassum) and its related coastal and beach pollution, failed crops, reduced food security, and loss of biodiversity, have all been identified by the scientific community as resulting from changing weather conditions caused by a warming climate.

In Africa, the direct impacts of climate change on agriculture are longer and more severe drought, soil exhaustion, decline in water supplies, a decrease in yields, the shortening of vegetative cycles and early flowering, higher prices, and loss of biodiversity.

Governments and corporates are not taking the necessary actions to halt and reverse the climate changes which will become irreversible if the current level of inaction continues.

Economic growth powered by fossil fuels and corporate profits are still prioritized over social, political and economic rights, climate stability and justice.

The working people of the world are most affected by climate instability, including those working in agriculture, food and beverage processing and tourism.

This 28th Congress recognizes that there is an opportunity to promote sustainable development, encourage cleaner technologies, industries, and jobs, and integrate climate risk and reduction of emissions into national policies and practices.

The 28th IUF Congress therefore:

  • Calls on Governments to fundamentally change policy settings to prioritize the reduction of GHG emissions to meet the target of 1.5 degree maximum increase in global temperature set by the Paris Agreement on Climate in 2015.
  • Calls on companies to abandon carbon trading and net zero targets in favour of rapidly and drastically reducing GHG emissions within their own operations and supply chains.
  • Calls on UN institutions and IFI’s, national, state and local governments, to work with trade unions to implement a Just Transition to a green and sustainable economy which prioritizes climate stability, biodiversity, social protection, respect for human rights and equality as a means to ensuring decent work, climate justice and the protection of democratic rights.
  • Promotes an adaptation strategy in every country which addresses the consequences of climate change, especially in the agricultural sector while at the same time demanding action to reduce GHG emissions.
  • Promotes the use of renewable and clean energies at companies with IUF membership, thus reducing the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG).
  • Calls for the widespread adoption of agroecological farming practices to reduce the contribution of agriculture to GHG emissions.
  • Calls on affiliates to develop and implement education programmes for union leaders and members, on the causes and consequences of the climate crisis and the actions required to bring about climate justice.
  • Calls on affiliates to table GHG emission reduction strategies and targets in collective bargaining and to enter into dialogue and agreements with employers to manage, monitor and evaluate the reduction of emissions, the setting of targets and the development of new skills and jobs for the necessary workforce transition.
  • Pledges to put just transition and climate justice at the core of IUF work on the climate crisis.