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Adopting greener economy in Asia-Pacific to create 14 million jobs

  • Published at 10:35 pm May 15th, 2018
Adopting greener economy in Asia-Pacific to create 14 million jobs
Photo: Courtesy

Global warming is expected to cost South Asia 40 million full-time jobs and a productivity loss of 48% mostly affecting the agricultural sector, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).

In order to mitigate the crisis, the ILO in their “World Employment and Social Outlook 2018: Greening with Jobs” report published on Tuesday suggests the most effective method would be to adopt a greener economy that would create some 14 million jobs in Asia and the Pacific. 

This however requires adopting and implementing the right policies. ILO Deputy Director-General Deborah Greenfield said: “The findings of the report underline that jobs rely heavily on a healthy environment and the services that it provides. 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.”

The report finds that the transition to a greener economy can create a net 14 million jobs in Asia and the Pacific, with gains in the fields of renewable energies, construction, manufacturing, and sustainable agriculture.

In Asia and the Pacific, economic growth remains coupled to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Environmental degradation is further exacerbated by the high volume of extraction; the region was responsible for 55 per cent of the 84 gigatons of materials extracted globally in 2013, the report said.

Bangladesh, as an emerging economy, can take the opportunity to create more jobs by ensuring a proper policy for the green economy.

In Bangladesh, a waste management company produces organic fertilizer using fruit and vegetable waste from the markets of Dhaka. Composting all the organic waste in Dhaka could create new jobs for 16,000 people from lower socio-economic backgrounds, the report cited. The company has set up a regional recycling training center in collaboration with the municipal government, it added.

Estimates show that between 2008 and 2015, the region lost an annual average of 536 working-life years per 100,000 working age people due to human-induced or climate change related disasters.

According to the report, globally, action to limit global warming to 2 degrees celsius will result in sufficient job creation to more than offset the expected job losses of 6 million in traditional energy sectors. 

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

Globally, 2.5 million jobs will be created in renewables-based electricity, offsetting some 400,000 jobs lost in fossil fuel-based electricity generation, while 6 million jobs can be created by transitioning towards a ‘circular economy’ which includes activities like recycling, repair, rent, and remanufacture - replacing the traditional economic model of “extracting, making, using, and disposing”.

The report calls on countries to take urgent action to train workers in the skills needed for the transition to a greener economy, and to provide them with social protection that facilitates the transition to new jobs.

“Policy changes in these regions could offset the anticipated job losses or their negative impact. 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,” says Catherine Saget, the lead author of the report.

“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. 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”, concludes Saget.