International Labor Organization Director General Guy Ryder said at the opening of a two-week conference on the global work force the transition to a greener economy may be the future of employment growth.
ILO and its counterparts in the United Nations this year launched the Partnership for Action on Green Economy. The aim of the partnership is to facilitate a shift in investments and policies toward a low-carbon workforce.
"Whether we like it or not, production and consumption systems are crucial determinants of environmental sustainability, and the world of work is going to have to make unprecedented efforts to reconcile its future with that of the planet," Ryder said in a statement Wednesday.
An ILO report released last year reported at least half of the global workforce -- about 1.5 billion people -- would be affected by the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Most industrialized nations have enacted policies that set benchmarks for renewable energy. Members of the European Union are debating goals for 2030. In 2009, the European Union set a goal of getting 20 percent of its energy needs through renewable sources by 2020.