Executive Coordinator for the UNCSD Rio +20 Conference, Elizabeth Thompson (centre), addresssing the conference. At left is Minister of the Environment, Dr. Denis Lowe and at right is UN Resident Representative, Michelle Gyles-McDonnough. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Job security and phytosanitary conditions as they relate to trade are the key areas that must be tackled if countries are to transition to a green economy.

These were among a number of issues raised this morning by Executive Coordinator for the UNCSD Rio +20 Conference, Elizabeth Thompson, as she gave background information on the upcoming Rio conference at a one-day Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Informal Ministerial Meeting at Hilton Barbados.

During her address, Ms. Thompson said that a number of the jobs created during the early stages of the transition would be in the areas of transport, energy, construction and design.

"These are traditionally male dominated areas of work and SIDS’ economies have a large number of women who we would need to keep at work," she said.

As a result, the Executive Coordinator warned of the possibility of job losses during the transition to the green economy, unless governments were prepared to put the appropriate supportive structures in place to help women make the transition.

In relation to phytosanitary conditions, Ms. Thompson noted that SIDS was unable to access trade markets because they did not meet the required conditions. "This is one of the unintended consequences of the trade negotiations," she pointed out.

She also mentioned the need to discuss the institutional framework for Rio +20, noting that at present, there were a number of options being discussed, including the need to collapse the Commission on Sustainable Development in its present form and to establish a Sustainable Development Council. ??Meanwhile, during the meeting, other options being tabled included having the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) assume responsibility for sustainable development matters.

In addition, delegates also advocated having the Sustainable Development Council located within an arm or agency of ECOSOC, through which sustainable development issues could be addressed.

Ms. Thompson added that there were also plans to create a World Environment Organisation, but noted it was apparent that some countries were experiencing some difficulty in accessing the necessary resources for its establishment.

It was also suggested that instead the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) could be upgraded from a sub agency to a full department or agency of the United Nations. "A lot of people seem to favour that," she stated.

julia. rawlins-bentham@barbados.gov.bb

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