Green Jobs in Asia – Potentials and Prospects for National Strategies
Singapore, 5-7 March 2012
Environmental technologies, such as renewable energies, recycling technologies, technologies for sustainable transport, etc. are increasingly seen as the drivers of future economic growth, while at the same time preserving natural resources and mitigating emissions. This is captured in the OECD’s Green Growth Strategy, which states: “Green growth means fostering economic growth and development while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services on which our well-being relies” (OECD 2011). While earlier definitions referred to the growth of specific eco-industries (Jänicke 2011), this new definition calls for a mainstreaming of green growth into “core economic strategies” in acknowledgement of the risks of continued environmental degradation for sustained economic growth.
Similar approaches are also being developed by Asian policy makers. In 2005, at the fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific (MECD 2005), Asian countries launched the so-called Seoul Initiative Network for Green Growth, officially endorsed by the 61st Session of UNESCAP. The recent UNESCAP (2010) report entitled “Green Growth, Resources and Resilience” acknowledges the limits of current resource-intensive development models in promoting long-term socio economic progress, especially for the most vulnerable sectors of society. It calls for “policies and investments that promote green growth […] to improve the “eco-efficiency” of the economy, which involves minimizing resource use and negative environmental impacts while maximizing the benefits generated by the economy. This action requires integrated strategies that increase the productivity with which energy and other resources are used, while ensuring that the growth rate and the types of economic activities are able to generate jobs quickly enough to reduce unemployment and maintain and enhance labour productivity” (UNESCAP 2010). The promotion of green jobs plays a central role in bridging the gap between social and environmental progress in this context.
Despite some modest progress over the past decade, however, the resource-intensity of economic growth in Asia remains well above the global average (UNESCAP 2010). In other words, although policy makers are increasingly aware of the looming environmental challenges, it has proven hard to balance long term environmental sustainability with the short term social pressures resulting from rapid population growth and the continuing challenge of poverty reduction.
The FES Regional Forum on Green Jobs will bring together participants from China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Poland, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. With a series of studies in the mentioned countries, FES has started to aim at exploring options for economic development strategies in Asia that depart from the path of high resource consumption, while generating sufficient employment opportunities to ensure social sustainability. With the results of the country studies as an analytical background, the Regional Forum will focus on identifying entry-points for green job creation, including the greening of existing jobs and the development of new job opportunities in emerging green industries. Thereby it seeks to make a contribution to efforts aimed at building a green economy that is both environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive.
Strategically, the outputs shall be linked with the FES regional working line in support of the “Economy of Tomorrow” - a project which has been set up in early 2011 in the context of the new FES strategy for Asia and the Pacific. Therefore, the forum shall also be used for network building between the different participants, in order to discuss future strategies for common activities and engagements.