Facing climate change: how can social protection and labour and employment measures support adaptation and mitigation?


In SOCIEUX+ Metapapers, we synthesize knowledge on current policies, interventions or approaches, and their results for beneficiaries, arising from cases of technical cooperation carried out by the EU's SOCIEUX+ facility in collaboration with its partners around the world in recent years. The aim is to inform and inspire policymakers and stakeholders. In this specific metapaper, we discuss the potential of labour market policies and social security systems to protect and prepare people to adapt to social and economic shocks due to climate change and to facilitate the green transition. We do this through concrete examples of interesting practices in different countries in different regions of the world.

Climate change is causing widespread adverse impacts and associated losses and damage to nature and people. About 3.3 to 3.6 billion people live in contexts that are highly vulnerable to climate change. Climate change is also a socio-economic challenge, as its impacts now and in the future have major implications for the global economy, income distribution, labour markets and public health. The most vulnerable are disproportionately affected. But labour market policies and well-developed social protection systems can help with climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Labour market policies and social protection systems can protect and prepare people to adapt to social and economic shocks due to climate change and can play a vital role in the green transition, as they have a long track record of helping people adversely affected by economic change. Even without explicit integration of shock-proofing strategies, well-developed social protection systems already improve resilience to the socio-economic impacts of climate change-related shocks. Similarly, the recipes that were used to make the social impacts of the COVID pandemic more bearable for socially vulnerable groups can help cope with socio-economic shocks due to climate change.

But climate change has also become an important driver of policy innovation. As some regions of the world have been facing the impacts of climate change for decades, they have already gained some policy experience on socio-economic adaptation to climate change. As the impacts of climate change become visible in more and more regions of the world, new ideas are being developed and alternative policy paradigms formulated, while the implementation of new policies provides valuable new insights.

SOCIEUX+ launches metapaper on Climate Change, Social Protection and Labour Market Policies.


Koen Vleminckx

Publication date: January 2024

Languages: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese

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