Until now, there has been enough anecdotal evidence signifying that the pattern of employment is indeed changing – and that new jobs are beginning to emerge in favor of greener, cleaner and more sustainable occupations. And now at a global level it is evident that green jobs are being generated in some sectors and economies.
This is in large part as a result of climate change and the need to meet emission reduction targets under the UN climate convention. This has led to changing patterns of investment flows – flows into areas from renewable energy generation up to energy efficiency projects at the household and industrial level.
The volume of documented growth in Green Jobs has so far occurred mostly in developed countries, and a few rapidly developing countries like Brazil and China. Green Jobs are also beginning to be seen in other developing economies. For instance reportedly a project in Bangladesh, training local youth and women as certified solar technicians and as repair and maintenance specialists, aims to create some 100,000 jobs. In India, an initiative to replace unproductive biomass cooking stoves in nine million households with more advanced and efficient ones could create 150,000 jobs. It now appears that a green economy can generate more and better jobs everywhere and that these can be decent jobs.
It’s not just that the Government that is thinking on these lines. Unexpectedly, ‘green’ has become the new mantra of the job market — with job creation and labour relation strategies focusing on this new area — all tripping on the back of climate change initiatives.
So, what exactly are green jobs? Many definitions are doing the rounds, but fundamentally it refers to the millions of jobs anticipated to be created as nations and enterprises try and transform into sustainable, low-carbon economies.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), any work that contributes to preserving environmental quality, protecting ecosystems and biodiversity can also be defined as a green job.
In India, the utmost buzz on new green jobs is in the renewable energy space and in green buildings, but the opportunity to create new jobs is plainly everywhere, from agriculture to administration. To give an example and to look at a scenario when offices start striving to reduce their carbon footprint by going paperless or recycling water, there could be energy auditors appointed. Other examples are green plumbers, who work with recycled water, green facilities managers and so on.
According to the ILO, the new green collar worker will be found in every strata of the workplace — from low to high-skilled, from the organized to the unorganized sector, from the green architect to the neighborhood Kabadi Walla.
Since the very definition of green jobs varies, it’s hard to say how many such jobs are being created. Emerging economies such as India will have higher net job creation of green jobs because there will be less substitution of high-carbon infrastructure and jobs. Instead they can leapfrog and directly move to creation of contemporary green technology.
There are challenges, of course. We need to first map the opportunities for green jobs, especially in small and medium enterprises where the potential is thought to be colossal. Then create awareness and finally create appropriate skill sets.
On the eve of World Environment Day this year Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) hosted a special session on Building a Green Economy. Speaking at the session, Jairam Ramesh said,
“We have a great responsibility towards our growing population, we need to add 8-10 million jobs every year and ensure that the jobs are green. We also have to ensure environment conservation as livelihoods need to be preserved and enhanced.”
The future trajectory of the Green Jobs and Green Economy will, therefore, depend on a wide range of factors and players. Governments, as well as the private sector will play a key role. Changes in the decisions, practices and behaviors of millions of managers, workers and consumers will be needed. According to the present understanding of the green economy concept, one of the key elements which support the transition to a more sustainable macro approach is Green job creation. This element also recognizes the importance of promoting decent jobs that offer adequate wages, safe working conditions, job security, reasonable career prospects and workers’ rights.
Author: Abhishek Ranjan
Abhishek is a Business Journalist in the making. He blogs at simplifyingbusiness.wordpress.com
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