In 2013 we turned 10. Looking back, on one hand we are happy to see just how much of the work we originally laid out has been successfully undertaken - and in fact we have done some things we couldn't even imagine back then. On the other hand, we cannot help feeling a little frustrated, to see that the challenge, addressing the environmental crises, is more urgent than we thought 10 years ago. The balance of power is less favorable now, while there is still so much to be done in an ever-shortening amount of time.
In 2012 we worked very hard to prepare for the Rio +20 Summit and to prepare for the Trade Union Assembly on Labour and the Environment, where trade unions renewed commitments to sustainable development and the environment. The outcomes of the Assembly are a special source of pride for us. We showed that it is possible to agree on proposals that sum up social and environmental change, that it is possible to combine the concerns of workers from the North and the South through a truly international trade unionism, and that the world of work can propose inclusive development models for workers, that also include society as a whole. The trade union Assembly outlined concrete points and served to fuel the People’s Summit as well as the official Summit with proposals. Trade union organizations did not forget about the environment, rather they were more ambitious than ever in formulating their proposals, demanding a radical change in the economic system so that public control and collective benefits prevail.
Many of the activities in 2011 aimed to prepare unions for Rio +20 summit and to work together with other actors, social movements, NGOs governments to advance an ambitious and at the same time realistic agenda for environmental and social change. The Dialogue in Madrid was one of the most important activities. Additionally, novel union campaigns were conducted in difererentes regions and sectors: Ugandan truck drivers who wanted to learn more efficient driving and better management of waste, waste pickers in Uruguay who wanted to create decent and green jobs through the involvement of their fellow citizens in reduction, separation and recovery of waste, Nepalese forestry workers who wanted to fight climate change and take care of their forests. The volume of activities in 2011 was similar to previous years, despite a 20% budget reduction. 745 participants attended our courses, workshops and seminars. The figure is close to the 700 we got in 2010. Participants came from 68 different countries.
For Sustainlabour 2010 was yet another year of positive achievements and fulfilled objectives. Functions and activities have been well consolidated, the end results continue to improve year after year, even with reduced resources, we have learned to do things better and to do more with less.
In a year where political changes were far from minor, we have found comfort in a job well done.
“In 2010, we won the discourse and nearly lost everything else” as Laura Martin, Director of Sustainlabour, said summarising the year.
In 2009 we worked with 170 different union organizations from more than 70 countries! Our publications and training manuals have been used by trade unions all over the world, Sustainlabour´s web site received 150,288 visits and more than 2,400 people are subscribed to our bulletin.
We work to strengthen trade unions´ capacity and knowledge, to develop their position when negotiating at the national, regional and international level and to ensure their participation in environmental intergovernmental processes and international events related to sustainable development. From training seminars to awareness-raising events, Sustainlabour´s activities are carried out on a truly global scale. We have combined our traditional formats, regional conferences and national trainings with new ones, such as on-line trainings, tripartite seminars, seminars specifically devoted to young unionists or vocational training courses, such as the one on installation and maintenance of renewable energy technologies.
2008 has been a strenuous year. This year has confirmed the validity of the arguments developed by those who believe in the need to simultaneously deal with both social and environmental challenges. The ongoing crises have made it more obvious than ever that the current model does not work. How bitter it feels to see that our predictions have been confirmed.
2008 has also been a year of ideas and proposals to get out of the crises. How can we take advantage of these crises to build something different and better? How can we use this occasion to initiate in-depth changes capable of overcoming the fundamental contradictions within our socio-economic system?
The idea that “we cannot go on with business as usual” must not simply form part of a statement of intent. It is time to imagine and implement innovative, courageous and engaging measures and policies.
With a message full of strength from the outgoing President Joaquín Nieto – “A unionist in a climate change conference, a man on Mars” as Laura Martin, Director of the Foundation refers to him.
“Joaquin has been a unionist in climate change negotiations, when this was like being a man on Mars. He thought that climate change was going to be a universal problem when there was scepticism all over. He thought that social problems couldn’t be solved if we didn’t take into account the environmental dimension, and he did so from an angle where it wasn’t visible at all, the unionism. Joaquín has been a convinced “red-green” or a “green-red”. And Sustainlabour is the product of this fusion.”
In this annual report, we refer to the work we are doing and consolidation on chemical risk and climate change (training, exchange of experiences…) There is also the presentation of a new issue of Sustainlabour's working agenda, a new challenge: Public and Participatory Management of Water.
2006 was a vibrant and intense year for the Sustainlabour Foundation. It overwhelmed what we expected, what we foresaw and what was expressed in our 2005 report of activities. Numerous opportunities presented themselves for Sustainlabour during 2006 and we took advantage with courage and determination.
In 2006, we opened up the following dialogues: the First Trade Union Assembly on Labour and Environment in Nairobi in January, the Latin America Regional Conference on Labour and Environment in Sao Paulo in April, the African Regional Conference on Labour and Environment in Johannesburg in July and the “side event” organized during the Foundational Congress of ITUC in Vienna in November.
To get an idea of the magnitude of these meetings, delegates from approximately 150 trade union organizations took part in them, which represents close to half of the affiliates as part of the new international confederation.