• The share of employment that relies on "ecosystem services" varies widely across regions, with Africa and Asia and the Pacific having the highest share, at 58% and 49%, respectively.
  • Most of the jobs are in agriculture (80%), but the textiles and apparel industry is also affected, representing around 9%.
  • Transitioning to a greener economy could create a net of 14m jobs in Asia and the Pacific.
The report calls on countries to take urgent action to train workers in the skills needed for the transition to a greener economy

The report calls on countries to take urgent action to train workers in the skills needed for the transition to a greener economy

Transitioning to a greener economy could create 14m jobs in Asia and the Pacific, a new report has found, with gains in fields including manufacturing and sustainable agriculture.

The job boost could be effective by 2030 if the right policies to promote a greener economy are put in place, according to 'World Employment and Social Outlook 2018: Greening with Jobs' published by the International Labour Organization (ILO).

According to the study, the share of employment that relies on so-called "ecosystem services" varies widely across regions, with Africa and Asia and the Pacific having the highest share, at 58% and 49%, respectively. Most of the jobs are in agriculture (80%), but the textile and apparel industry is also affected – representing around 9% – in areas such as fibre production, water purification, and textile waste management, recycling and landfill.

"The findings of our report underline that jobs rely heavily on a healthy environment and the services that it provides," says ILO deputy director-general Deborah Greenfield. "The green economy can enable millions more people to overcome poverty, and deliver improved livelihoods for this and future generations. This is a very positive message of opportunity in a world of complex choices."

Results from the report show that most sectors of the global economy will benefit from net job creation, with 6m potential jobs to be created by transitioning towards a 'circular economy', which includes activities like recycling, repair, rent and re-manufacture – replacing the traditional economic model of "extracting, making, using and disposing."

The global net job creation as countries make the transition to green economies would amount to 24m jobs: 14m in Asia and the Pacific, 3m in the Americas, and 2m in Europe.

Report authors are calling on countries to take urgent action to train workers in the skills needed for the transition to a greener economy.

"Policy changes in these regions could offset the anticipated job losses or their negative impact," says Catherine Saget, lead author. "Low- and some middle- income countries still need support to develop data collection, and adopt and finance strategies towards a just transition to an environmentally sustainable economy and society that includes everyone from all groups of society."

In the majority of countries analysed for the report, skills for green transition are not yet part of the Technical and Vocation Education and Training (TVET) curriculum. This is often due to the disconnect between TVET systems, environmental policies and national development strategies, as well as between TVET institutions and industry. In many cases training for the green transition is provided by employers, mainly because they are directly exposed to changing skills needs, and partly because of the insufficient development of such training through formal TVET systems.

In South Africa, the National Cleaner Production Centre of South Africa (NCPC-SA) offers a six-month internship programme to strengthen the employability of young engineers by providing them with training and experience in greener production in sectors such as clothing, textiles, footwear and leather.

The report highlights the need for synergies between social protection and environmental policies that support both workers' incomes and the transition to a greener economy. A policy mix comprising cash transfers, stronger social insurance and limits on the use of fossil fuels would lead to faster economic growth, stronger employment creation and a fairer income distribution, as well as lower greenhouse gas emissions, it says.

"Social dialogue which allows employers and workers to participate in the political decision-making process alongside governments plays a key role in reconciling social and economic objectives with environmental concerns," concludes Saget. "There are cases in which such dialogue not only helped to reduce the environmental impact of policies but also avoided a negative impact on employment or working conditions."