Green jobs

The recent financial and economic crisis is not the only crisis the world is facing. Environmental degradation, poverty eradication and rising unemployment are some of the longstanding, pressing issues as well. The concerns for the environment and the emerging debates over green economy make it extremely relevant to look into employment, working conditions, and labour/decent work issues in different economic sectors.

Creating a meaningful path to help economic recovery, address environmental degradation, and attend to the different social needs will be critical to ensuring long term sustainability in the world. The Green Economy Report produced by UNEP in 2011 explains how this can be achieved by investing in green, clean and sustainable sectors. Focusing on individual sectors of the economy can support the creation of sustainable enterprises and create decent work opportunities for all, especially for those who need it most. To this end, the Sectoral Policies Department (SECTOR) provides nuanced knowledge, analysis, and policy advice across the various sectors it covers, which can enrich the position of the ILO on the topic of green jobs and green economy.

Hitherto, the sectoral analyses have shed light on the crucial character of social dialogue as a starting point for any type of transition towards a greener economy. The involvement of stakeholders has proven to be essential to ensure that the workers’ concerns are properly represented—which holds especially true for sectors where temporary reduction in the employment is foreseen.

Trends in production, consumption and employment are undergoing significant change and it is expected that they will continue evolving over the next years. With varying degrees of maturity depending on the countries and the sectors involved, the transition towards a greener economy is already in progress. Reducing GHG emissions and other environmental impacts, improving living conditions, creating green jobs and reducing poverty while increasing the competitiveness of companies and economic sectors is possible— and is taking place— in sectors like construction or renewable energies in different countries across the world.

Many aspects of the transition to a green economy need strong support. Social policies need to be developed along with environmental and economic ones. Key issues like investing in the skills that will be needed for a low-carbon global economy and policies to handle the employment adjustments in different economic sectors need to be made. Likewise, from the social solidarity’s point of view, and in order to mobilize the political and workplace support for the changes that are needed, it is imperative that policies are put in place to ensure that those likely to be negatively affected are protected through income support, retraining opportunities and relocation assistance among others.