Rio Summit "Agenda 21" Statement on Trade Unions


                                             A/CONF.151/26 (Vol. III)
                                             14 August 1992

                                             ORIGINAL:  ENGLISH

                       ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT

                    (Rio de Janeiro, 3-14 June 1992)

                               Chapter 29


                             PROGRAMME AREA

Basis for action

29.1.  Efforts to implement sustainable development will involve adjustments
and opportunities at the national and enterprise levels, with workers foremost
among those concerned.  As their representatives, trade unions are vital
actors in facilitating the achievement of sustainable development in view of
their experience in addressing industrial change, the extremely high priority
they give to protection of the working environment and the related natural
environment, and their promotion of socially responsible and economic
development.  The existing network of collaboration among trade unions and
their extensive membership provide important channels through which the
concepts and practices of sustainable development can be supported.  The
established principles of tripartism provide a basis for strengthened
collaboration between workers and their representatives, Governments and
employers in the implementation of sustainable development.


29.2.  The overall objective is poverty alleviation and full and sustainable
employment, which contribute to safe, clean and healthy environments - the
working environment, the community and the physical environment.  Workers
should be full participants in the implementation and evaluation of activities
related to Agenda 21.

29.3.  To that end the following objectives are proposed for accomplishment
by the year 2000:

     (a)   To promote ratification of relevant conventions of ILO and the
enactment of legislation in support of those conventions;

     (b)   To establish bipartite and tripartite mechanisms on safety, health
and sustainable development;

     (c)   To increase the number of environmental collective agreements
aimed at achieving sustainable development;

     (d)   To reduce occupational accidents, injuries and diseases according
to recognized statistical reporting procedures;

     (e)   To increase the provision of workers' education, training and
retraining, particularly in the area of occupational health and safety and


(a)  Promoting freedom of association

29.4.  For workers and their trade unions to play a full and informed role in
support of sustainable development, Governments and employers should promote
the rights of individual workers to freedom of association and the protection
of the right to organize as laid down in ILO conventions.  Governments should
consider ratifying and implementing those conventions, if they have not
already done so.

(b)  Strengthening participation and consultation

29.5.  Governments, business and industry should promote the active
participation of workers and their trade unions in decisions on the design,
implementation and evaluation of national and international policies and
programmes on environment and development, including employment policies,
industrial strategies, labour adjustment programmes and technology transfers.

29.6.  Trade unions, employers and Governments should cooperate to ensure that
the concept of sustainable development is equitably implemented.

29.7.  Joint (employer/worker) or tripartite (employer/worker/Government)
collaborative mechanisms at the workplace, community and national levels
should be established to deal with safety, health and environment, including
special reference to the rights and status of women in the workplace.

29.8.  Governments and employers should ensure that workers and their
representatives are provided with all relevant information to enable effective
participation in these decision-making processes.

29.9.  Trade unions should continue to define, develop and promote policies
on all aspects of sustainable development.

29.10.  Trade unions and employers should establish the framework for a joint
environmental policy, and set priorities to improve the working environment
and the overall environmental performance of enterprise.

29.11.  Trade unions should:

     (a)   Seek to ensure that workers are able to participate in
environmental audits at the workplace and in environmental impact assessments;

     (b)   Participate in environment and development activities within the
local community and promote joint action on potential problems of common

     (c)   Play an active role in the sustainable development activities of
international and regional organizations, particularly within the United
Nations system.

(c)  Provide adequate training

29.12.  Workers and their representatives should have access to adequate
training to augment environmental awareness, ensure their safety and health,
and improve their economic and social welfare.  Such training should ensure
that the necessary skills are available to promote sustainable livelihoods and
improve the working environment.  Trade unions, employers, Governments and
international agencies should cooperate in assessing training needs within
their respective spheres of activity.  Workers and their representatives
should be involved in the design and implementation of worker training
programmes conducted by employers and Governments.

Means of implementation

(a)  Financing and cost evaluation

29.13.  The Conference secretariat has estimated the average total annual cost
(1993-2000) of implementing the activities of this programme to be about
$300 million from the international community on grant or concessional terms. 
These are indicative and order-of-magnitude estimates only and have not been
reviewed by Governments.  Actual costs and financial terms, including any that
are non-concessional, will depend upon, inter alia, the specific strategies
and programmes Governments decide upon for implementation.

(b)  Capacity-building

29.14.  Particular attention should be given to strengthening the capacity of
each of the tripartite social partners (Governments and employers' and
workers' organizations) to facilitate greater collaboration towards
sustainable development.