It’s time to harness the potential of green jobs and integrate them into our economy so that sustainability becomes a culture
Representative image. Image Courtesy: flickr
Green jobs is the new buzzword in global environmental policy issues. They are also known as green collar jobs, sustainable jobs, green jobs, or environmental jobs. In simple terms, any job that reduces the impact of human economic activity on the environment or contributes to restoring the environment is called a green job.
Green employment is a very broad term that encompasses almost all areas of the economy. It is any business or profession that produces goods or services that are good for the environment; for example, green buildings or solar panels. This economic activity can either be in the “green sector”, such as the renewable energy sector, or in regular sectors of the economy such as infrastructure, manufacturing or construction.
When in doubt about whether or not a particular job is green, long-term ecological footprints through techniques such as from the cradle to the grave analysis, environmental impact assessment or ecological footprint must be applied to determine the extent to which a product, service, area or job is actually green. A green job can be self-employment, small business, or eco-conscious entrepreneurship. It can be a business or a profession with business, NGO, government or education.
As a green job is the environmental aspect of any economic activity, it is very broad in its implications and aspects. Sometimes the process adopted by a business unit may not be “green” and only the end product is “green”. In this case, it is a product-based green job, instead of a process-based green job. The following examples will illustrate various aspects of green jobs:
- You work in a “green sector” where goods or services are produced that reduce environmental impact and are environmentally friendly. For example, you are employed in a business unit that manufactures air purifiers or low carbon industries. Other examples of this aspect include products and services such as toxin-free homes, solar and wind power, etc.
- You work in a sector that develops and innovates eco-sustainable technologies. It includes a research-based approach where the business unit is committed to eco-technologies. For example, a company developing green hydrogen that can replace traditional energy sources.
- You work in a business that is in the regular business but follows environmentally friendly practices. For example, you work in the construction sector which reuses bio-waste as a material in the construction activity. Other examples of this aspect include practices such as energy conservation, water conservation, waste reduction, reuse, recycling, etc.
- You use skills or services that are good for the preservation of the environment. Here, the focus is on the transmission of skills and education. For example, you give advice (green advice) on how to save energy or use resources efficiently. Other examples of this aspect include consumerism, environmental educator, peace, green tourism, green schools, etc.
- You earn directly from a business or profession that preserves the environment. For example, you earn by doing urban forests or organic farming. You have green skills and work as a professional in and as a solar engineer or organic gardener, environmental health, biodiversity, local and natural food, green building, eco-villages, animal parks and nature, conservation, climate change, sustainability agriculture, green business, green media, sustainable lifestyle, sustainable development, sustainable forestry, etc.
The main contours of green employment at the level of individuals, companies, organizations, governments and education are the 5Rs: reduce, reuse, recover, refuse and redirect.
- Reduce the use of goods and services harmful to the environment. For example, switching to organic farming from pesticide-based farming.
- reuse products that help contain the pressure on natural resources. For example, reusing non-biodegradable waste such as used tiles in the construction of green buildings.
- Retrieve the things we have lost to the environment. For example, recovering the area lost through reforestation and afforestation in areas where natural forests have been depleted.
- Refusing products and services that lead to environmental degradation. For example, refusing to use products in commercial activities such as asbestos, which are dangerous for the environment.
- Reassignment our way of life. For example, adopting more activities like cycling, walking, public transit, non-motorized recreation, etc.
Benefits of green jobs
- This will lead to a sustainable and environmentally conscious society. It will protect and restore ecosystems locally, regionally and globally.
- The first prerequisite for any economy aspiring to become a green economy is the creation of green jobs. This will lead to a green economy.
- This will indirectly lead to reduced costs such as impact on health, environment and exposure of vulnerable sections.
- It will lead to improved energy and raw material efficiency. This will limit greenhouse gas emissions and minimize waste and pollution.
India and green jobs
India is about to take a big leap from a developing economy to a sustainable green economy. It has huge potential for green jobs.
The four key green sectors are: renewable sectors, waste management, green transport and urban forestry. With the development of the economy and the government’s emphasis on green budget, these sectors will generate huge opportunities in green fields. In the 2022-2023 budget, the government specifically focused on the aspect of green jobs.
A study by the Indian Institute for Human Settlements estimates the creation of three million jobs in green sectors by 2030. According to data from TREE, the growth of green jobs in India increased to 67% from 1998 to 2007 .
Another study concludes that 24 million jobs could be created by shifting to a circular economy, which includes activities such as (the 5Rs of sustainability) recycling, reuse and reuse, and ecosystem services such as purification of soil, air and water. The Indian economy is harnessing its own natural renewable energy sources which will create a huge demand for skilled and unskilled jobs.
Green jobs are the future. It is time to harness the potential of green jobs and integrate them into our economy so that sustainability becomes a culture.
Geetanjali Mehra is a leading interior designer and environmentalist. She has created more than 125 urban forests and is a pioneer of vertical gardens with plastic bottle waste. She also launched the world’s first free tree and plant hospital equipped with tree ambulances. The opinions expressed are personal.