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How well are we doing?

Green jobs



How well are we doing?

Editor's note: We will soon be updating our policy comparisons and case studies to include our 12 newest countries: Germany, Serbia, South Korea, USA, Ethiopia, Australia, Spain, Italy, Nigeria, Turkey, Indonesia, Japan.

A vital part of any green economy transition is the creation of new Green jobs that will provide sustainable livelihoods for citizens. Green jobs are those that improve environmental sustainability, either by making existing industries greener, helping to conserve or restore the natural world, or by creating employment in new ‘clean’ sectors like renewable energy.

The opportunity to create well-paid and highly-skilled jobs is one of the key upsides of a greener economy, so it is unsurprising that all 20 countries surveyed have started to make at least basic commitments. Despite this broad interest in jobs policies, very few countries had seriously considered how best to tackle the social and labour market challenges of a green economy transition, let alone providing a clear, joined-up strategy to ensure these jobs were of high quality or widely accessible.

The exceptions to this were countries like Mongolia, Sweden - and to some extent United Arab Emirates and Senegal. Mongolia’s Green Development Policy Action Plan provides details on what a green job looks like, maps current green jobs in Mongolia, and sets specific targets for job creation and accessibility. Meanwhile, Sweden relies on its comprehensive social protection and welfare policies as a safety net for transition industries, with a targeted green jobs programme set up specifically for recent migrants and the long-term unemployed.

1.2 billion jobs or 40 per cent of world employment rely directly on a healthy and stable environment. Business cannot succeed on a planet that fails. Jobs cannot be sustained on a dying planet.

Antonio Guterres
United Nations Secretary-General; speaking at the UN Climate Action Summit 2019

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About this policy

A well-planned green jobs strategy helps to focus government efforts on creating industries and employment that will provide a decent wage while also contributing to the wider green economy. Green jobs are a way of future-proofing an economy for more ambitious green policies that may be adopted further down the road. They can also offer essential new employment and reskilling opportunities for people working in sectors that are likely to face decline due to new policies or technologies; such as coal-mining.

The strongest policies will be integrated into national green economy plans and have detailed, well-funded proposals to incentivise the creation of new green jobs or even whole new industries. Addressing social inclusion, decent wages and a just transition are important; green jobs plans should prioritise marginalised communities and those reliant on fossil fuel industries. Identifying green jobs can be difficult and so many countries will only have nascent programmes, without detailed planning or funding. Other countries may not prioritise green jobs at all, and may only mention the employment and inequality challenges of a green transition in passing.

Policy methodology

Case Study: Mongolia

Mongolia’s green economy transition planning has attempted to identify and promote ‘decent green jobs’ that contribute to sustainability while also meeting International Labour Organization (ILO) standards. The 2014 ‘Green Jobs Mapping in Mongolia’ assessed green and decent jobs in eight key sectors, identifying 285,300 green jobs – the majority of which were concentrated in animal husbandry – but with few of them meeting the standards to qualify as ‘decent green jobs’. Responding to this, the latest green jobs strategy is embodied in the ‘Action Plan: Green Development Policy of Mongolia’, which sets out national development objectives for green jobs (objective 4) and an implementation framework for green production and employment initiatives out to 2030 – in line with the ‘Mongolia Sustainable Development Vison 2030’.

Mongolia Country Profile