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Procedure : 2012/2035(INI)
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PV 11/09/2012 - 10.18
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Tuesday, 11 September 2012 - Strasbourg
Role of women in the green economy

European Parliament resolution of 11 September 2012 on the role of women in the green economy (2012/2035(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 2 and 3(3), second subparagraph, of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and Article 8 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to Article 23 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 20 June 2011 entitled ‘Rio+20: towards the green economy and better governance’ (COM(2011)0363),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 8 March 2011 entitled ‘A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050’ (COM(2011)0112),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working paper of 11 February 2011 entitled ‘Report on the progress on equality between women and men in 2010’ (SEC(2011)0193),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 21 September 2010 entitled ‘Strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015’ (COM(2010)0491),

–  having regard to the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in September 1995, the Declaration and the Platform for Action adopted in Beijing and the subsequent outcome documents of the United Nations Beijing +5, +10 and +15 Special Sessions on further actions and initiatives to implement the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action adopted respectively on 9 June 2000, 11 March 2005 and 2 March 2010,

–  having regard to the United Nations Convention of 18 December 1979 on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW),

–  having regard to the report of the European Institute for Gender Equality of 2012 entitled ‘Review of the Implementation in the EU of area K of the Beijing Platform for Action: Women and the Environment Gender Equality and Climate Change’,

–  having regard to the joint publication of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) of the report ‘Why a Green Economy Matters for the Least Developed Countries’(1), prepared for the LDC-IV Conference in May 2011,

–  having regard to the UNEP report of September 2008 entitled ‘Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World’(2),

–  having regard to the UN Women report of 1 November 2011 entitled ‘The Centrality of Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women for Sustainable Development’(3), prepared in anticipation of the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) to be held in 2012,

–  having regard to the Women's Major Group Rio+20 Position Statement Summary of 1 November 2011(4),

–  having regard to the Women's Major Group position paper of March 2011 in preparation for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development 2012 entitled ‘A Gender Perspective on the ’Green Economy‘(5)

–  having regard to the publication of the official government report (Stockholm, Sweden) of 2005 entitled ‘Bilen, Biffen, Bostaden: Hållbara laster – smartare konsumtion’(6),

–  having regard to its resolution of 20 April 2012 on women and climate change(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 March 2012 on women in political decision-making – quality and equality(8),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 March 2012 on equality between women and men in the European Union – 2011(9),

–  having regard to its resolution of 29 September 2011 on developing a common EU position ahead of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)(10),

–  having regard to its resolution of 7 September 2010 on developing the job potential of a new sustainable economy,(11)

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 June 2010 on gender aspects of the economic downturn and financial crisis,(12)

–  having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (A7-0235/2012),

A.  whereas a green economy is defined as a sustainable economy, which means social and ecological sustainability; whereas social sustainability involves a social order permeated by gender and social equality regardless of gender, ethnicity, colour, religion, sexual orientation, disability or political opinion;

B.  whereas climate change and the loss of biodiversity threaten women's and men's living conditions, welfare and wellbeing; whereas the preservation of our ecosystem is therefore a cornerstone of a green economy; whereas today's generation cannot leave the responsibility of solving today's environmental problems to future generations; whereas ecological sustainability involves using, conserving and enhancing the community's resources so that ecological processes on which life depends are maintained and the total quality of life, now and in the future, can be increased;

C.  whereas due to gender roles, women do not affect the environment in the same way as men, and in many countries women's access to resources, and their opportunities to manage conditions and adapt, are curtailed by structural norms and discrimination;

D.  whereas environmental policies impact directly on the health and the socio-economic status of individuals, and whereas gender inequality, combined with lack of sensitivity to women's different economic and social status and needs, means that women often tend to suffer disproportionately from environmental degradation and inadequate policies in this area;

E.  whereas the role of women in the green economy in several Member States continues to be underestimated and ignored, creating numerous discriminations in terms of lost benefits, such as social protection, healthcare insurance, adequate salaries and pension rights;

F.  whereas it is the poorest people, an estimated 70 % of whom are women, who will be hardest hit by climate change and the destruction of the ecosystem;

G.  whereas the transition to a green and sustainable economy is essential to reducing environmental impact, improving social justice and creating a society in which women and men enjoy equal rights and opportunities;

H.  whereas the transition to a green economy often raises particular issues regarding the integration of women in the market for green jobs, as women often lack the adequate technical training required to undertake specialist roles in the green economy;

I.  whereas women are clearly under-represented in environmental negotiations, budget deliberations and decisions on achieving a green economy;

J.  whereas consumption and lifestyle patterns have a significant impact on the environment and climate; whereas the rich world's consumption patterns, e.g. food and transport, are unsustainable in the long term, especially given that all men and women on earth are entitled to live a good life with proper wellbeing;

K.  whereas consumption patterns generally differ between women and men; whereas women consume less in comparison to men, regardless of socioeconomic status, but also seem to show a greater willingness to act to preserve the environment through consumer choices, such as eating less meat, driving less and being more energy efficient;

L.  whereas women, in consequence of the current gender power structure, do not have the same control over, or access to, transport systems as men; whereas in order to improve women's transport opportunities, it is necessary to introduce more efficient means of public transport, more walking and cycling routes and shorter distances to services, and to develop and enhance knowledge and innovation of environmentally friendly means of transportation;

M.  whereas women are particularly vulnerable to the effects of environmental hazards and climate change due to their lower socio-economic status relative to men, their traditionally disproportionate share of domestic responsibilities and the danger they face of being exposed to violence in situations of conflict created or exacerbated by scarcity of natural resources;

N.  whereas women must participate fully in the policy formulation, decision-making and implementation of a green economy; whereas women's participation has resulted in improved emergency response, increased biodiversity, increased food safety, reduced desertification and increased forestry protection;

O.  whereas there is a lack of comprehensive and comparable data on the impact of a green economy on the labour market;

General considerations

1.  Supports the need to move society towards a green economy in which ecological considerations go hand in hand with social sustainability, e.g. greater equality and greater social justice;

2.  Notes that specific and important parts of the green economy affect the ecosystem, consumption, food, growth, transport, energy and the welfare sector;

3.  Regrets that the Commission's communication to EU institutions and committees regarding ‘Rio+20: towards a green economy and better control’ lacks a gender perspective;

4.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to compile age- and gender-disaggregated data when strategies, programmes and budgeting projects are being planned, implemented and evaluated for the environment and climate sectors: without statistics, the options for implementing relevant measures to improve equality are reduced;

5.  Regrets that gender concerns and perspectives are not well integrated in policies and programmes for sustainable development; recalls that the absence of gender perspectives from environmental policies increases gender inequality, and calls on the Commission and Member States to establish gender mainstreaming mechanisms at international, national and regional levels in environmental policies;

6.  Calls on the Commission to initiate research on gender and the green economy, as well as on women's contribution to the development of green innovations, services and products;

7.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to support and promote specific research and studies on how the conversion into a green economy will affect women and men in different sectors, and on women's essential role in facilitating the transition; calls on the Commission and the Member States to integrate a gender perspective in environmental protection and environmental impact assessment studies;

8.  Recognises the urgent need for an international agreement regarding a common definition of the green economy, based on the pillars of both social and ecological sustainability; emphasises the significant role that civil society – especially social movements, environmental organisations and women's rights organisations – have to play in defining the aims and objectives of the green economy;

9.  Calls on the Commission to systematically include a gender-equality perspective in the definition, implementation and monitoring of environmental policies at all levels, including in local and regional development and in research activities; calls on the Commission to use and support the promotion of gender mainstreaming as an instrument for good governance;

10.  Calls on the Commission to promote gender equality as a key issue when designing, and conducting negotiations on, future regulations and programmes for the EU structural funds (the European Social Fund (ESF) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)) and the Common Agricultural Policy, especially in the framework of measures related to the transformation towards a green economy;

11.  Observes that renewable energy can be used in remote and isolated areas where there is no electricity, and that it contributes to the production of non-polluting energy; encourages, therefore, the Member States to develop facilities to exploit renewable and environmentally friendly energy through the use of the ERDF and the ESF; encourages, furthermore, more innovation, and more participation of both women and men, in the development of, for example, renewable and environmentally friendly energy and architecture;

12.  Calls on the Commission to raise, in its information campaigns, awareness about the importance of converting to a green economy and about the positive effects of gender-sensitive environmental policies;

Sustainable consumption

13.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to introduce gender equality into all environmental policy areas, and at all levels of economic decision-making; these targets should be compiled in consultation with civil society;

14.  Urges the Commission and Member States to start applying a new, social and climate-friendly indicator on growth, which includes non-economic aspects of wellbeing and sets its primary focus on issues related to sustainable development such as gender equality, poverty reduction and lower greenhouse gas emissions;

15.  Notes that work to meet people's legitimate demands for housing, food, provisions, energy and jobs must always be carried out so that ecosystems are conserved and climate change is limited, while the earth's resources are used in a manner consistent with human rights, leading to greater equality and allocation based on the principles of environmental equality;

16.  Stresses the importance of ensuring that children and grandchildren enjoy good living conditions and that economic development meets current needs without compromising future generations;

17.  Emphasises that GDP is a measurement of production and does not measure environmental sustainability, resource efficiency, social inclusion or social development in general; calls for the development of clear and measurable indicators that take account of climate change, biodiversity, resource efficiency and social equality;

18.  Calls on the Member States to implement fiscal measures which lead towards a green economy, partly by putting a price on environmental impact and partly by investing funds to stimulate green innovations and sustainable infrastructural systems;

19.  Believes that EU public funds should be used, to a much higher degree, for sustainable collective uses;

20.  Calls for conditions to be imposed such that EU subsidies are limited to activities that benefit the environment and favour social sustainability;

Sustainable transport

21.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to create sustainable transport systems which take equal account of women's and men's transportation needs and which, at the same time, have a low impact on the environment;

22.  Calls on the Commission to focus its research financing, a vital lever, on projects to develop innovative and sustainable transport solutions;

23.  Calls on the Member States to reduce the environmental and energy impacts of the transport sector and to improve equality by working to increase access to IT systems and traffic-efficient planning;

24.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to introduce a transport hierarchy that clearly indicates which mode of transport should be prioritised for overall environmental and traffic targets to be achieved;

25.  Calls for statistical data to be compiled prior to the development of any transport hierarchy, in order to measure the environmental impact of public and private methods of transport in the full range of differing local contexts, and calls on the public authorities concerned to set examples in this effort;

26.  Calls on the Member States to integrate the impact of the use of transport by public authorities in the state audits carried out by respective auditing authorities;

27.  Calls on the Member States to promote remote working by means of social and tax incentives, and by providing a protective legal framework for workers;

28.  Calls on Member States to significantly strengthen local public transport by increasing the quantity and quality of transport services, by improving the safety, comfort and physical accessibility of transportation modes and facilities, and by providing integrated and additional systems of transport, including to small towns and rural areas, thus strengthen the ability to travel for women, disabled and the elderly, allowing for their greater social inclusion and enhancing their living conditions;

29.  Stresses that investment in sustainable transport systems must take into account the fact that women's and men's perception of public spaces is different and is based on different risk assessments, which means that safe environments in the transport system must be prioritised for both women and men;

The welfare sector and green jobs

30.  Notes that green jobs in areas such as agriculture, energy, transport, utilities, research, technology, IT, construction and waste are of great importance in the green economy;

31.  Calls on the Member States to promote women's entrepreneurship in the green economy by facilitating women's access to it, through the dissemination of data and training workshops and by creating measures to help women achieve a balance between their working and private lives; calls on the Member States to encourage women's entrepreneurship in the development of environmental protection and environmentally friendly technologies, e.g., in sectors such as renewable energy, agriculture and tourism, and in the development of green innovations, especially within the service sector; notes that renewable energy can create new job opportunities for women entrepreneurs in areas where female unemployment is particularly high;

32.  Calls on the Member States to ensure that women enjoy appropriate working conditions, have access to a decent standard of health care, education and habitation, and participate with a strong voice in social dialogues to facilitate the transition to the new green jobs;

33.  Notes that a sustainable economy means that it is ‘green for all’, creating decent work and sustainable communities and allowing for a fairer distribution of wealth;

34.  Notes that it is not only green jobs but all work with a low environmental impact that is important in a green economy; notes that while such work can be found in the private sector, it also found in the welfare sector, e.g., in schools and care services;

35.  Calls on the Member States to ensure that women are equally represented in political decision-making bodies as well as in government-appointed bodies and institutions dealing with defining, planning and implementing environmental, energy and green jobs policies, so as to include the gender perspective; calls on the Member States to appoint more women in management roles and company boards within the green jobs sector; stresses that if it is not possible to achieve this through voluntary means, targeted initiatives, such as the establishment of quotas or other methods, must be used to strengthen equality and democracy;

36.  Points out that the ecological conversion of the economy, and the transition to a low-carbon economy, will create a huge demand for skilled workers; refers to the fact that female workers are strongly under-represented in the renewable sector and especially in science- and technology-intensive jobs; stresses, therefore, that it is especially important that the Member States develop action plans to encourage more women to choose courses and careers within fields such as engineering, natural sciences, IT and other areas of advanced technology, as these will be the focus of many green jobs in the future;

37.  Calls on the Member States to use and develop ways to encourage women to choose courses and careers in the environmental, transport and energy sectors whilst determinedly fighting stereotypes that favour careers in natural and applied sciences for men;

38.  Notes the need to support and encourage women's access to microcredit for small businesses;

39.  Calls on Member States to use and develop methods to encourage men to choose courses and careers with a low environmental impact in the welfare sector;

40.  Invites the Member States to develop training courses, through EU programmes such as the ERDF and the ESF, designed to facilitate women's access to new ‘green’ jobs, and emerging technologies with a low environmental impact, in both the private and public sectors; calls on the Member States to ensure that female workers are included more in training projects and programmes on ecological transformation, i.e., in the renewable sector and in science- and technology-intensive jobs, and to focus on giving women, through education and training, the competences and qualifications they need in order to compete with men on an equal basis for employment and individual career development; observes that men have easier access to the advanced agricultural production means and the business technologies needed to gain high-skill positions in the green economy;

41.  Notes that in order for women to participate in the green economy on the same terms as men, more centres for the care of children and the elderly are needed, both women and men must be able to reconcile family and working life, and women's sexual and reproductive rights must be ensured; points out that policies and regulations should strive to provide support for social security, family planning and child care, since women will only be able to bring in their expertise, and contribute their equal share to prospering green economies, in a society that satisfies these requirements;

42.  Points out that the greening of the economy has come to be regarded as a means of stimulating economic development, particularly in the context of the economic crisis and the EU 2020 Strategy; calls on the Commission and the Member States to support efforts to ‘green’ the economy by encouraging investments and programmes which promote green innovations and green jobs and that are targeted at those who need them the most; insists that a gender perspective is crucial if exacerbating inequalities are to be avoided;

43.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to collect and analyse gender-disaggregated data on the distribution of financial resources in correlation to gender-divided sectors and green innovations, and to develop indicators in order to measure the potential, disaggregated effects of a green economy on territorial and social cohesion; calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop strategic direction and a set of instruments for responding effectively to possible changes in employment levels and in the structure of the labour market;

Sustainable policies in international relations

44.  Expects that the transition to broader and more sustainable economic indicators, including in development policy, will lead to more emphasis being placed on social and environmental objectives for developing countries, and that specific policies and regulations will secure women's property rights and control over natural resources; stresses that there is a need to promote women's access to such services and new technologies as are needed to manage and operate energy and water schemes, business enterprises and agricultural production; stresses that there is a need for women to engage more in business and in organisational leadership;

45.  Calls on the Commission to fully recognise and address the multiple effects of environmental degradation on inequalities, in particular between women and men, and to ensure the promotion of women's equal rights in the elaboration of new policy proposals in the field of climate change and environmental sustainability;

46.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop indicators to assess the gender-specific impact of projects and programmes, and to facilitate a gender and equality perspective in environmental strategies for achieving a green economy;

47.  Calls on the Commission to be particularly aware that access to clean water is of major importance to girls and women in many parts of the world, as it is often their responsibility to fetch and carry water home; stresses that it is also important to retain female indigenous knowledge of local ecosystems;

48.  Calls on the Commission to pay particular attention to the fact that in many developing countries, the opportunities for women to pursue careers in a green economy are still severely limited as a result of social conditioning and patriarchal patterns, and that women fail to gain access to the information, training and technologies needed to access this sector;

49.  Calls on the Commission to be particularly aware that billions of people are totally dependent on biomass for energy, and that children and women suffer from health problems because they collect, process and use biomass; stresses that investments are therefore needed in renewable and more efficient energy sources;

50.  Calls for in-depth impact analyses, from a climate, gender and sustainability perspective, of the outcome of multilateral and bilateral trade agreements negotiated between the EU and third countries, and urges the Commission to authorise explicit support for the management of climate change as part of all aid-for-trade and other relevant development aid;

51.  Calls on the Commission to develop programmes for the transfer of modern technology and expertise to help developing countries and regions adapt to environmental changes;

52.  Stresses that gender inequalities in relation to access to resources, such as microloans, credit, information and technology, should be taken into account when defining strategies to combat climate change;

o   o

53.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments of the Member States.

(7) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0145.
(8) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0070.
(9) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0069.
(10) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0430.
(11) OJ C 308 E, 20.10.2011, p. 6.
(12) OJ C 236 E, 12.8.2011, p. 79.

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