This week at UNI Global Union’s headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, UNI Youth held its “Building a Sustainable Future” workshop, which brought together almost 60 young workers and trade unionists from all over the world. Young workers’ voices are crucial and will play a pivotal role in shaping how unions can work together to tackle the climate crisis. 

The workshop was supported by Movetia, the Swiss agency for the promotion of exchanges and mobility. 

Representing 43 unions from 31 countries and 11 different sectors, young workers convened to discuss climate change and its ramifications on their lives and livelihoods.  

“As trade unions, we have a responsibility to fight for the rights of our workers, for collective bargaining, the right to strike, equal rights or environmental rights,” said Marta Ochoa, Head of UNI Youth. “This is no longer just another important issue, but an absolutely urgent one that demands concerted action at all levels. This workshop aimed to empower young workers, equipping them with the tools and knowledge to advocate for a sustainable future. 

Over three days of intense discussions, participants explored how climate change was making an impact globally, regardless of gender, class, age or nationality. 

On the first day of the workshop, participants discussed the fundamentals of climate change – from the profound implications on both natural and human systems, to the impact of climate inaction and the divide between the global north and south. 

The second day focused on the specific impacts of climate change within participants’ respective sectors – from challenges in employment to exploring mitigation and adaptation strategies within workplaces. 

On the final day, attention turned towards actionable steps. 

Participants looked at the UNI Congress resolution adopted in Philadelphia and planned how trade unions can effectively implement measures to translate resolutions into tangible realities.  

After moderating a panel on climate change at UNI’s Philadelphia World Congress, one of the participants at the workshop, Mamadou Ndiaye from Senegal decided to take action in his own country. Mamadou started Ecofit, an initiative that combines fitness and ecological action to tackle plastic waste and pollution in Dakar.  

“What I’m taking away from this workshop is that my sector – the ICT sector – is a sector that pollutes a lot. Even though my company Sonatel has CSR programmes,  we need more,” says Mamadou. “I think we need to push for big picture actions as well as the small actions we are already taking to improve our communities and make a difference. 

“When I get back to Senegal, I will meet our General Secretary who is our direct contact with management, and push to enact and implement some of the lessons I’ve learned here to tackle the climate crisis.” 

As the workshop concluded, participants left inspired and determined to fight for a better and more sustainable future.