How is the climate crisis affecting our jobs?

1 December 2022

Harish Hande (Co-founder, SELCO) and Sabina Dewan (Founder and ED, JustJobs Network) debate pathways to sustainable livelihoods for those most vulnerable to the climate crisis.


Smarinita: Large businesses and the environment have traditionally been seen to be at loggerheads with each other—a country and its people can either create more jobs and contribute to GDP or they can save the environment and protect our natural ecosystems. But is this framing accurate?

The actions of large companies and businesses have a sizeable impact on climate in terms of the resources they consume, the waste they generate, and the processes they adopt. On the other hand, the effects of the climate crisis are felt most strongly by those who work in the informal sector—such as agriculture, construction, micro businesses—where their work and incomes are affected by extreme and uncertain climate patterns.

In India particularly, our climate crisis is coinciding with our growing unemployment situation, with young people and women disproportionately affected.

Given this, how can the discourse change from pitting one against the other to instead look at the intersections of business and climate change? Is there a different way of thinking about livelihoods versus just jobs? This episode explores the idea and practice of sustainable livelihoods and businesses in the context of climate change. And to help us unpack this we have Sabina Dewan and Harish Hande.

Harish is the co-founder of SELCO, a social enterprise that has pioneered the delivery of decentralised solar energy across rural India. He set up the company in 1995 after having observed the benefits of solar energy in rural areas in other countries. In 2011, Harish was conferred the Ramon Magsaysay Award in recognition for his work in sustainable energy. 

Sabina is the founder and executive director of the JustJobs Network, which she began with John Podesta in 2013. She works closely with governments, businesses, multilaterals, and grassroots organisations providing critical information about the labour market in order to generate more and better employment, especially for women, youth, and marginalised groups.

Smarinita: Let’s start with one of the first things—this constant conversation that you hear in the mainstream narrative that usually pits jobs against the environment. It’s industry versus climate action. It’s one against the other. So how relevant is this kind of thinking today, and how are businesses thinking about jobs and employment in a world that has more contract labour, more gig workers, decreasing formal jobs, more people, you know, opting for entrepreneurship. Sabina, can I start with you?

Sabina: Let me start by just laying out a slightly broader picture. We are at the moment witnessing, experiencing several major transformations that are completely upending traditional employment models and changing the way that you and I live and work. And climate change is one, and that’s one of the biggest, but we’re also witnessing things like technology, the pandemic, urbanisation, migration of people, all of these different trends, demographic change; all of these different trends are completely changing labour markets, restructuring labour markets. And what this is doing is that it’s happening…this change is happening at a pace and scale that is faster than the ability of institutions, data systems to keep up. And this is causing a lot of insecurity and a lot of precarity in labour markets as well.

So the single dichotomies of industry versus climate, like informal–formal, these kinds of dichotomies are kind of unhelpful at the moment, because this moment in time is really a confluence of factors that are changing the way that we live and work, and the kinds of precarity or insecurity that we’re witnessing in the labour market ranges from, in India, an increase in unemployment—even pre COVID unemployment was at 6.1 percent, youth unemployment was three times that at 17.8 percent; declining labour force participation rates in general, but certainly for women—fewer than one in five women are in the labour market; stubbornly high unemployment—a large share of our workforce is self-employed. So all of these changes, we’re moving toward a labour market that is much, much more insecure. Even regular wage workers don’t always have written contracts, paid leave, or social security. So this idea about labour and contracting, this has to be contextualised into this broader landscape of massive sea change that’s happening. And unless we can actually figure out how to create institutions, adopt regulations, build policies that protect workers, harness their productive potential, then I think we’re going to face a lot of economic insecurity and turmoil, which will also be bad for businesses.

Smarinita: Thanks, Sabina. Harish? Do you want to speak a little bit about how relevant this kind of thinking is, and what you’re seeing play out in terms of how the labour market scenario is changing?

Harish: See, I mean, if you look at the last 10,15, 20 years, the environmental jargon or environmental wordings and climate change was mostly owned by the so-called activists. And so what has happened in the mid ‘80s and the ‘90s, where environmental activism, the way it was pitched between both sides of the equation was, it is activism versus industry.. And the way the euphoria went off, that when you have a hard left, you also start to have a hard right. And so a lot of the industry leaders were also like, okay, but we need to make livelihoods, we need to make money. And so don’t talk about [the] environmental movement, because that’s not the issue right now. And on the other side, the hard reality that this is kind of a wave that is coming and you’re not able to see it—the droughts in Europe, for example, or the flooding in parts of India and Pakistan and elsewhere, or what has happened in Latin America, for example, it’s hitting. But what has still not happened is that it’s not directly still hitting the boardrooms. Yes, a little bit of a shake-up. But I think urgency [is missing] because the age group in which lot of the boardrooms work in, [they] are still at a different era and are not apt or not qualified enough to look at how the new solution should come up. The climate changes at a much faster pace and, the way it has hit us in the last two years, people will have to be more serious than they are right now.

Smarinita: So how do you change some of this because like you said, the impact is felt most by communities on the ground? Unless they’re served by people in the boardrooms, how do you protect the livelihoods of people? Because that is also getting impacted due to climate change, right?

Harish: My fear is what I saw in COVID. The first casualty was the uncontracted labourers, etc., however you define it. And then you push them back into the so-called ‘go back to where you came from’. So you had this migration back to the rural areas in Africa, in Latin America, in India. The issue is, how can centralised business actually make sense at all? I mean, on one hand, America is suffering from centralised businesses pushing their manufacturing to China and that is why a lot of local entrepreneurship is gone, in other than the IT sector. We need to look at a much more decentralised job creation, where we are looking at a 25-kilometre radius, 50-kilometre radius, 100-kilometre radius, localisation of consumption, localisation of production, leading to localisation of livelihoods creation, we should have that as the model, rather than ‘too big to fail’. But actually the failure is taken by the poor and not by the boardrooms.

So, for example, when COVID-19 hit, a lot of decentralised supply chains of food and horticulture had collapsed, the transportation system, the trucks, and everything. So a lot of the poor who were doing vegetables or different crops in different parts of the country could not sell in a sense because there was no storage per se. Otherwise what used to happen is that middlemen used to pick up, take it to the central market, sell it per se. Now, one of the best examples of how do you come up with decentralised small cold-storage systems, solar powered…previously, people used to think large cold-storage, small cold-storage systems [were there] where there are flowers, vegetables or any local cropping, potatoes, tomatoes, all are kept in a decentralised way, and are sold within a radius of 25, 50,100 kilometres.

Decentralised cold storage has actually led to larger opportunities for the poor to get more value for production. So the margins are also a little higher, because people are able to procure better prices due to the storage facilities. And the second beauty is that there is a decision-making time where I can do better processing [for products] like a ketchup or anything else. Previously, I had to just sell tomatoes, I used to capture least [value]. So decentralised cold storage has actually led to larger opportunities for the poor to get more value for production. And that’s some of the examples, I would say, which should transform the way the new businesses and livelihoods will happen in the country.
Smarinita: Sabina, Harish has highlighted the importance of localisation and decentralisation when it comes to businesses and livelihoods. Have you been seeing different ways of thinking about livelihoods?

Sabina: So, Smarinita, let me comment on a few things that were just brought up. I mean, first of all, I think that it’s quite, in some ways, naive of us to think that companies will ever think about anything other than their bottom line, right? The essence of a private sector company is profit creation for its shareholders. And, therefore, the idea that we can expect companies to actually have a collective conscience for society is, I think, a stretch. That’s not to say that I don’t believe we should strive for that, or that we shouldn’t advocate for companies to have an ethical and moral compass. But I think the expectation that they do is naive. So I just wanted to be clear about that.

Our economic models and our policy and regulatory frameworks in India are skewed toward not really focusing on the bottom of the pyramid.What that brings me to is taking a step back and saying, you know, our economic models and our, certainly, policy and regulatory frameworks in India are skewed toward, as Harish said, toward not really focusing on the bottom of the pyramid, where development needs to happen most. But I would fault the fact that our economic systems are skewed and our regulations are not adequate and our policies are weak, rather than blaming companies alone and saying that they don’t have a conscience; that’s the point that I’m trying to get at.

Now, when I talk about regulations, or I mean, for one thing, we have minimum wage regulations, they don’t get enforced very well, certainly they don’t get enforced when it comes to women’s employment. But we’ve now moved from inspections to kind of voluntary reporting on part of companies, these kinds of trends actually exacerbate the existing asymmetries of power. Now, over time, as fiscal resources with governments have become weaker, there’s an increasing reliance on the private sector to fund different aspects of development. There’s a consolidation happening as Harish said, you know, the too ‘big to fail’. There’s a consolidation happening with big companies that swallow up smaller companies. We see this with the big six tech. These economic systems are more conducive to the continued asymmetries of power, at the same time we have weak regulations and policies to counter that.

But the problem in my view is that we’re not doing enough to put a stop to that or to counter that or to moderate that. And therein lies, I think, one of our major action items, rather than saying, you know, companies should be doing something else. I absolutely agree with Harish that decentralisation and localisation when it comes to job creation is essential, particularly for a country as large as India. That said, I don’t think we can completely undermine the importance of exports to our nation’s development, to our jobs picture. I also point to other examples across the globe where participation in value chains has been a huge springboard for job creation and economic growth. Let’s look at Vietnam. I purposely did not say Bangladesh, which is what everybody wants me to say. But I think the Bangladesh model is actually not the right model to follow. The Bangladesh model has been one that has capitalised on low-cost labour that hasn’t led to development outcomes, despite high levels of growth for several years. But if we look at a country like Vietnam that has managed to diversify its economy, institute education, institute training, institute healthcare in many ways, we in India can aspire to balance these kinds of mechanisms. We have to. Our labour market is too big and too diverse for us to completely cut out one part of the equation. We have to look at bolstering exports, we have to look at how we can claim our share in value chains. But at the same time, where the rubber meets the road for a lot of the lower socio-economic level workforce of ours, there I do agree that localisation of livelihood and decentralisation of job creation strategies and skilling strategies is absolutely essential as well.

Smarinita: If I can just probe you a little bit more, Sabina, on this. I mean, in the context of climate change, businesses have the most impact—the processes they have, the waste they generate, or the resources they consume. We can’t just say because they are only primarily accountable to their shareholders, what can we ask them to do? How do we get them to start moving down that path?

Sabina: Well, absolutely, I don’t think we should all just sit back and throw our hands up in the air and say, let’s not do anything and leave them alone. What I’m suggesting is that we can’t just pin blame on them and not do anything about it. And what works with business, as we’ve seen, is consumer pressure, right? Now, at the end of the day, these are a multitude of individuals that one-on-one are probably very nice people with the best of intentions. But when you put them together in the form of a profit-driven corporation, then there’s a different outcome until there’s pressure. And these pressure points or incentives either have to come from the market and consumers or they have to come from government in the form of regulation. Let’s be clear, even the companies that do good things are doing them because people see that they’re doing good things and then we’ll be more inclined to buy their products.
There are a lot of businesses that are jumping into the adaptation, mitigation game, precisely because they see a market opportunity.

And also I think we can’t lump all corporations into one big basket. This country has hundreds of thousands of small businesses that are also part of the private sector of different sizes. So are we talking about just the very large corporations? Or are we talking about small and medium enterprises, and then those dynamics differ. The last thing I’ll say is that there are a lot of businesses that are jumping into the adaptation, mitigation game, precisely because they see a market opportunity. There is a market opportunity to manufacture solar panels or to come up with different kinds of solutions that help communities and populations deal with the nefarious effects of climate change. I think it’s important to see what the incentives and pressure points for business are and that’s market, consumers, regulations, and a market opportunity as well for them.

Smarinita: Harish?
Harish: My point is, I’m a little concerned when, Sabina, you say that we are naive to understand that business have to take responsibility. Businesses are part of society and part of the environment where they’re working. Now, the question is, I work in a certain landfill, I have a geography around me of people, land, [and] the flora and fauna. Everything around me. The question is, do I say that I really don’t care what happens, because anyhow there are no regulations. But I can extract. So my question is, are we saying that it’s okay to be extractive? It’s okay to be extractive and you cannot be extractive until the regulations come in. So I’m a little bit confused here, then I can mine as much as I want because my end goal is profitability. I really don’t care what happens to the tribals around me or anywhere else. Because then what is the role of industry associations like CII [Confederation of Indian industry], who are supposed to be taking the nuances of everybody? It’s not only the profitability of the business per se. And, secondly, Vietnam is not a democratic country. It’s very easy for Vietnam to actually do all [this]—all the activists are in jail. But we are a democratic country. So my question is, we cannot say one part of the society will not be playing a game. [They] have to be equally responsible, because climate and poverty, it is not only regulation, government, it’s everybody together. We cannot say until somebody does the regulation, I’m not going to do it. And I think that game, that’s exactly why the disparities have increased. That’s why only nine men have 70 percent of the world’s wealth. And that has not worked.

Sabina: So, Harish, I think that’s it, what you’re saying is a great question. But that’s not what I said at all. The point that I’m making is a very nuanced point. The point that I’m making is that we can set up and blame businesses all we want. I’m not the one who’s saying businesses shouldn’t take responsibility, it’s not their responsibility. I didn’t say that. What I am saying is that there’s a difference between what you and I would ideally like to see and what the reality is. We would not be in the mess that we are in in terms of resources extraction, in terms of resource depletion, in terms of the job scenario that we’re in, we would not be in this kind of a situation if businesses were taking responsibility.
The solution, it lies in market pressure, consumer pressure, regulatory pressure. That’s how you’ll get businesses to change.

Did I ever say that they shouldn’t? No, of course they should. But the point is that they’re not. And so what is the solution? The solution is not us standing here saying, “They should take responsibility.” This solution is what I was trying to propose. The solution, it lies in market pressure, consumer pressure, regulatory pressure. That’s how you’ll get businesses to change. I’m 100 percent in agreement with you that businesses need to be doing something different. But my focus was on what is going to make them do something different. I agree with you on the Vietnam [example], that’s a completely fair point in terms of Vietnam not being a democracy. That said, several democracies also jail their activists. So my point with regards to Vietnam was much more about just the fact that they’re not a ‘one sector, one model’, that they’re an economic model that has been able to diversify as well as make social investments at the same time, and therefore their outcomes are better. I 100 percent agree that the governance model of Vietnam makes it easier to make those changes, and democracies are much messier.

Harish: Only one point, Sabina, I agree where I mean, I think we’re coming to the same point. So the only place where I disagree [a little] is when we say the market pressure. I’m not a big fan of market pressure. The moment you have market pressure, Facebook changes its name to META, right? So now it’s a different company. So these companies…that’s exactly my point but what is market pressure. They are selling the same bloody product with a different name. That’s all it is. And regulations, yes, but also some of it is where I would say start at the beginning, at the fourth grade, fifth grade, MBA students, MBA classes, bring in the concept of social sustainability. And today social sustainability is not a good CSR you do after 60. It is part of the business. But unless and until we change the coursework in MBA schools, the future managers, this is what management is. And part of those guys come in to CEOs. And some of those guys become the regulators. We are not catching them young.

Sabina: Harish, can I ask you a question? Yes, you catch like 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds and you ask them, do you really care about climate change and the poor? What do you think they’re going to tell you?

Harish: Well, many of them will say both.

Sabina: Exactly, that’s my point. But my point is that these individuals are absolutely aware of climate change. They’re absolutely aware of the social realities. But it’s the corporate culture that we’ve established. So it’s not, I think, if we go into an MBA school and start teaching social realities, we are dealing with children and kids and youth who have a conscience and perhaps even more so than adults do, because they’re the ones who are going to be affected by this. But I think it’s the corporate culture that we live in, and changing that I think would require, definitely, maybe more social consciousness raising in MBA programmes, but certainly also market pressures and regulatory pressures. And we see this in the Global North, that consumers will pay the extra dollar for something that is fair trade, or something that is organic or not. In our countries in the Global South, we can’t afford to do have a premium, and we don’t exert that kind of pressure. But we could, we could exert that kind of pressure on companies in terms of markets and say, “You know what, I’m not going to buy this service, or I’m not going to use this.” That’s what I mean by market pressure.

Smarinita: So we’ve talked about how we’re seeing a bunch of different shifts that will upend labour markets and traditional employment models—whether it’s the climate crisis, the pandemic, urbanisation, tech, demographic trends. And we’ve had a lively discussion around incentives and what the role of business should be, going forward, when it comes to sustainability.
I’d like to actually shift gears a little bit, and ask you, Harish—outside of large companies, which is mostly what we’ve been talking about so far, what are the opportunities for livelihoods, especially in the context of climate change. You’ve done a lot of work with small- and medium-sized entrepreneurs and decentralised models, so what’s your take?

Harish: If I break it up into four or five sectors per se and say agriculture and under agriculture, say the government of India has 18 value chains. If you look at the millet value chain, the silk value chain, or if I go to animal husbandry, you look at the dairy value chain as well as poultry value chain. The third part is the resilient micro businesses like the eateries, the barber shops, and everything else. Then you have the textile and crafts. All these are livelihoods if you look from a value chain perspective, and none of them have been explored from a climate-resilient perspective, less drudgery and making it gender inclusive.

For example, today when you run a rice mill and it’s run on diesel, you not only need a man but you need a strong man to start the diesel engine. [But in] a small solar-powered rice mill, [you can] switch off a button [and] you suddenly have women coming into the livelihood force or [for a] blacksmith blower, why can’t it be [a] solar-powered switch and then the hammer mill actually works on it. Suddenly, women become blacksmith blowers. So the beauty of creating livelihoods in a decentralised fashion is it not only creates livelihoods—jobs today, not tomorrow, today—it’s automatically climate resilient, it’s inclusive, whether it’s transgender, whether it’s gender, whether it’s a marginalised religious community, and it’s bottom-up, and democratised in many ways. So those are huge opportunities where innovation in terms of technology has not yet happened. Innovation in terms of financial models, innovation in terms of delivery models, and India can be that R&D centre for the world.

Smarinita: Sabina, do you want to respond to that? Because I also want to ask you about new opportunities being generated. This term ‘green jobs’, what do green jobs look like?

Sabina: In the popular imagination, often we think of the impact of climate change being an upending of agricultural livelihoods and people from coastal areas having to move to already oversaturated urban labour markets, which is a huge reality. So I think one is just the direct impact of climate change on livelihoods. And the other side of this coin, however, is the upending. And disruption of livelihoods that is impending with the move from coal-based energy to renewable energy, and basically needing to shift people out from those working in coal sectors to other sectors. And it’s not a one-for-one no matter how many jobs the renewable energy sector creates. And perhaps there’s a lot of research that shows that they’ll create a lot of jobs.
Rather than thinking about green jobs, or what a specific green job is, I think we need to green all jobs, right?

And then the third strain is that there’s the ancillary sectors with steel production, the railways, the ancillary industries, that are very much geared towards us doing business based on coal, the way that the energy is, supply is structured today. And all of that we need to change and, in the process, we’ll need to have the right institutions in place to be able to equip workers, protect workers, provide them with skills, provide them with healthcare, provide them with a basket of social protection and support. And think about how we’re going to get them into meaningful, gainful livelihoods. I think that rather than thinking about green jobs, or what a specific green job is, I think we need to green all jobs, right? We need to shift our economic structures such that we’re relying on cleaner sources of energy, more efficient sources of energy. And I think that these centres of innovation at the grassroots level that Harish is talking about is a huge potential opportunity. But there’s going to be a lot of labour market pain, before we can actually have green jobs at the scale that we need to be able to absorb the huge labour market shift that’s happening and going to keep happening and perhaps even accelerate.

Smarinita: Yeah, because I think, in a sense, we don’t have the luxury of time. The climate crisis is happening right now. So both of you have actually spoken about the role of government and the role of businesses, but is there also a role, you know, for media? And what is the role of civil society in making sure that we can think of solid livelihoods opportunities in the face of the adverse impacts of climate change? Harish?

Harish: Civil society is very fragmented in a country like ours, especially when you look at CII, at least the industry has an association. Civil society is less coherent. And I will be saying that civil society has to take a much more serious role and what it is, rather than just saying that we are standing for the poor, what are you doing? Are the poor part of your problems and part of your solutions? And you are raising the most expensive money, the philanthropic money or CSR money is the most expensive money because that can make or break a potential future market, or an ecosystem per se. And the programme design thinking is what needs to happen in the civil society, that when you’re designing programmes, are you designing from a 10-year perspective? Or are you designing for just a funder as opposed to from a 31st March perspective? I think civil society is way behind in its formulation of what needs to be done from a climate-resilience perspective. And that’s where I think I see a huge gap that needs to be plugged in.

Smarinita: So you’re saying it can actually make some of these linkages that prepare people for some of these opportunities that get presented?

Harish: And lower the transaction cost for future businesses to come and take over in a sense. You’re using the most expensive philanthropic capital, what you are trying to do is lower the transaction costs, and make the systems much better using philanthropic money so that other types of private capital can come in. You’re not lowering that transaction cost, you’re moving away from one project to another, and the long-term thinking process of civil society is absent. And that’s where I think it’s a relay race in many ways.

Sabina: You know, I think it’s important to note that civil society is an extremely valuable connect to the ground, often compensating for the gaps in our public and government infrastructure and policies. So I really think that civil society has an absolutely crucial role to play. And I think the very fact that they’re not part of the private sector, that they’re not profit driven, actually gives them licence to really engage with the communities in a way that has a different set of incentives, that has a different set of goals.

That is often not the case with a private sector or a business, right? No matter how small the business, it’s still trying to make a profit. And I think that’s a really, really vital part of the equation, that civil society is invaluable. As much as I agree with Harish that the grant-based model has been warped to a place where sometimes civil society is in the business of staying in business, where they really should sort of create self-sufficient communities and move on.

So there’s a lot of things that civil society could be doing better, but I think the fundamental premise is that they are really plugging a very valuable gap that is left often by public services and government services. Add to [that] the fact that they’re not profit driven, [it] better equips them to deal with some of the very deep challenges that our communities are facing that I think only civil society could address. And I also just want to add to that the idea that it’s civil society, but it’s also labour unions. And we started this conversation really talking about the asymmetries of power between corporations and workers. And I think the importance of labour unions also needs to be emphasised in managing the kinds of power relations that have become very skewed with suppression of worker voice with less avenues, especially in a world where self-employment is growing, these kinds of opportunities for collectivisation are becoming fewer and fewer. So it’s civil society, it’s labour unions, and it’s very important that we continue to nurture this community to continue to nurture their role, even if they don’t always do everything perfectly the way we’d like to see.

Smarinita: Given everything we’ve talked about today, from the asymmetry of power between companies and workers to incentives for companies to operate more sustainably to all jobs being green jobs, what do you think we absolutely need to change today? Harish, do you want to go first?

Harish: There’s programme design thinking in different colleges and MBAs before they go, they’re all looked at, okay, you’re going to go into business or civil society from a transactional point of view. You’re not taught to design programmes, you’re not taught to look at all the consequences from a time perspective, from an environment perspective, from a generational perspective. Those design thought processes are completely absent. And today’s world is not about mechanical engineering or electrical engineering. If you look at the United States, some of the colleges have tried to break away from the traditional thinking of engineering colleges and started to look at multi cross-sectoral colleges, which will bring out a person as a solution provider rather than an expertise. I think, if climate change has to, I mean, the solutions have to succeed, we need lot of implementers, programmers, thinkers, and for that how do you set the pace? And India is in the right position to become that knowledge hub especially for the South, I’m talking about Latin America, South America, as well as Africa and Southeast Asia, be that hub of the future generation of—future in the next five years—solutions. And that, I would say, education institutions should pick it up at the right moment. Otherwise, we’ll be having the same debate five years down the line.

Sabina: So I would just summarise in some ways, Smarinita, by saying we do have this biggest existential crisis of our time hanging over our heads. And do we want corporations to take responsibility? Absolutely. But we have to be able to exercise the levers that we have at our disposal to their full extent if we want corporations to do something different. And that is really relying on consumers and consumer knowledge and using the media to exert pressure and to focus on exerting market pressure and certainly adopting not more or less regulation, but effective regulation in order to hold corporations accountable. That’s number one.
What we need is an economy, a society that focuses on the importance of livelihoods and generating livelihoods.

Number two, I think that we cannot think of the effects of climate change or the energy transition or the idea of green jobs as an individual phenomenon that’s not connected to the rest of the economy or the rest of the labour market. I think what we need is an economy, a society that focuses on the importance of livelihoods and generating livelihoods. So livelihoods become the backbone on which we build growth, not that we strive for economic growth and then hope that the jobs come. We need to have jobs first and work first and a really concerted strategy on how we can leverage every opportunity—small business innovation, big business, expanding employment, entrepreneurship, all of the above—in order to create a more job-intensive economy.

The last point that I’ll end with is that as we undergo this massive sea change, with climate change, and the restructuring of labour markets and strive and run as fast as we can, urgently, to kind of try to build the systems and institutions that will protect workers and help with these transitions, we cannot forget about the importance of women in this entire picture and the gender dimension. For far too long women get left out of the story and India’s female labour force participation rate has been declining and is dangerously low. So I think the gender dimension of this entire transition has to be of prime importance and front and centre in terms of our priorities.


Smarinita: One thing is clear: The climate emergency is forcing us to relook at our current economic models. And it is high time that we understand how this affects where we work and how we work.
Decentralising jobs and businesses and localising livelihoods is a step in the right direction. This will ensure that those most vulnerable to the climate crisis aren’t left in the lurch. But we need to hold those sitting in boardrooms, those continuing with their business-as-usual approach, accountable as well. And in doing so ensure that governments, media, markets, and civil society all play their part.
Thank you, Harish, thank you, Sabina, for a great conversation and for helping our listeners understand the issue from two different vantage points.