Green Jobs – what’s the reality?

Convincing government Ministers and young job seekers

As entire nations are being rescued, global unemployment is reaching record levels but at the same time the labor market is expanding by tens of millions of workers each year. In the face of the twin challenges of stagnating economies and climate change, stimulating green industry is more important than ever.

“It’s time for a bailout for the environment: one that creates jobs, is global in scope, and can help rebuild communities amidst the ashes of the current economic crisis,” says Michael Renner, author of the report, Green Jobs: Working for People and the Environment. The report is summarized from a longer study entitled Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World, commissioned by the United Nations Environment Programme, the International Labour Organization, the International Trade Union Confederation, and the International Organization of Employers.

 Green jobs are not only about conservation or environmental protection as some people may believe. It’s about tourism, fisheries, coastal engineering, renewable energy and energy conservation, reengineering buildings, transportation systems, agriculture and so forth. All have the potential to create jobs that help reduce our energy/carbon footprint and protect the environment.

Worldwide opportunities for green jobs are expanding. In China, renewable energy technologies employ an estimated 1 million people. Retrofitting the European Union’s residential building sector to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 75 percent would lead to some 2.6 million new jobs by 2030.

Recycling programs create as many as 15 million jobs worldwide. Organic farming is also expanding; in the UK organic farms employ on average one-third more employees per farm than conventional counterparts. In the tourism sector, islands are the most sought after destinations on the planet but they are also the least developed in terms of products; opportunities abound for “green tourism”.

Addressing climate challenge in particular requires a different approach that can create jobs. This focuses on greater efficiency of energy, water and raw materials, altered lifestyle and consumption choices, economic restructuring, and environmental restoration.

The potential for green jobs is immense. But much of it will not materialize without sustained investments in the public and private sectors. To provide as many workers as possible with the qualifications they will need, an expansion of green education, training, and skill-building programs in a broad range of occupations is crucial. In small island states like Seychelles with economies built on a few pillars like tourism and fisheries, we have a chance to retrofit for the future by emphasizing green jobs and in the process becoming models of change.

Renner.M.2008. Green Jobs: Working for People and the Environment. 60pp.Worldwatch Institute. Green Jobs


Author: Dr. Nirmal Shah

Nirmal is a well-known and a passionate personality in the Seychelles environmental and sustainability scene having an encyclopedic knowledge of Seychelles biodiversity as well as a wealth of experience in environment management. He has worked in senior positions in the parastatal, government, private and NGO sectors and consulted for international organizations such as the World Bank, IUCN, UNEP, Sida and UNESCO. He has appeared on CNN, BBC, Radio France, PBS, NBC, ABC, SABC and others

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