Economic and social focus: formal employment
The World Day of Social Justice is celebrated every 20th February, and this year we at APlanet want to make a special post for this date. This year’s theme, as established by the UN, aims to increase awareness about the instability that informal workers face on a daily basis. This is an issue that demands our attention: according to the International Labour Organization (ILO) more than 6 out of 10 workers and 8 out of 10 companies in the world work in the informal economy. In other words, “more than half of the world’s workforce and more than 90% of the world’s micro and small enterprises” work in precarious conditions.
Informal work is defined as activities – in most cases paid – that are carried out without being recognised, registered or regulated. By not giving workers the rights they deserve, they are unfairly condemned to precarious employment, as well as losing access to the labour and social protection that a formal job would provide them, thus leaving them in a vulnerable position. In addition, the informal economy affects more women than men, thus deepening gender inequality.
The root of many of these problems lies within legislation, but enterprises also have a key role to play in ensuring quality employment. Businesses need to put a stop to informal work by providing employment that gives security to their workers, therefore enabling the transition to a formal economy. This is not only in the interest of society as a whole, but also in the interest of enterprises according to ILO’s report:
“When enterprises formalise, in particular by increasing productivity and improving market access, their sustainability increases and fair competition in national and international markets is boosted.”
Thus, tackling the informal economy means reducing inequality, poverty and strengthening legislation. This will result in a more equitable society, thereby contributing to greater social cohesion.
Socio-environmental approach: climate justice
Although a focus on informal work gives worthy attention to economic injustices, it fails to mention the detrimental effects that climate change has on society. Today we at APlanet would like to highlight what the climate justice movement entails.
We will continue to do our part to transition to a green economy, both now and in the coming years. Growing environmental awareness has brought to light the fact that not everyone has equal access to clean living spaces. This was emphasised on 8 October 2021, when countries around the world agreed that a clean, safe and healthy environment is a basic human right. Climate justice is not just about the physical environment, but also the social environment, and so we need to transition to a healthy social environment for all.
There are many reasons why we do not all have equal access to a safe environment. Poverty is one of them, however there are also other less well-known systemic issues that contribute to these inequalities. Such is the case with environmental racism and examples of toxic geographies, two important factors in the unequal distribution of environmental hazards.
A safe environment as a privilege
The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) explains the meaning of environmental racism within the environmental justice movement in its 2020 report as:
“situations in which certain groups are disproportionally affected by environmental degradation and a lack of environmental services linked to underlying racially motivated discrimination and exclusion. The effects include negative health impacts, a lower quality of life, and a further deepening of existing inequalities”
These issues can occur at local, regional and international levels. In addition, racial disparities in toxic waste facility locations have also been identified and have come to symbolise a pattern of “unequal enforcement of environmental laws” for vulnerable communities (Cole & Foster 2000, p.58).
Social justice is about a fair transition to equality and inclusion. To make the energy transition inclusive, minority, marginalised and poor communities must not be disproportionately affected. A healthy environment cannot be a privilege for the few, as explained by our CEO in Diario Responsable (the Responsible Diary):
“Without social justice there is no cohesion, and that is a terribly sad thing. There is no way to build good foundations for society without equality, and without taking into account differences in opportunities. Injustice only creates gaps, pain and sufferance; and when this happens we risk losing the potential of those affected. This is why it is important to fight for a future that is free of inequalities.”
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