Green growth and jobs for youth

UN Photo/Logan Abassi

Millions of green jobs have been created across a range of sectors and there are more work opportunities ahead, according to the report by the Green Jobs Initiative of ILO. The shift to a greener economy that could generate 15 to 60 million additional jobs globally over the next two decades and lift tens of millions of workers out of poverty, also offers opportunities for young people. 

Green growth and green jobs for youth was the focus of an expert group meeting in Bangkok, Thailand from 12 to 13 December, organized jointly by DESA’s Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD), the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the International Labour Organization Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The meeting aimed at promoting green jobs for young people as part of the implementation of the UN system-wide Plan of Action of the Second UN Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2008-2017).

It stimulated a dialogue between all participants to share information and knowledge for a better understanding of the challenges in creating green jobs as well as the identification of promising initiatives and examples of green jobs for youth employment creation, in particular in Asia and the Pacific.

As 75 million young people are out of work worldwide today and youth unemployment has soared in both developed and developing countries since the 2008 global financial crisis, jobs creation for youth is a top priority. The need to address this serious situation was also underscored earlier this year by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who in his message for International Youth Day said, “the global economic crisis has hit youth the hardest, and many are understandably discouraged by rising inequalities. Without urgent measures, we risk creating a ‘lost generation’ of squandered talent and dreams.”

What are good practices and initiatives, in particular for skills development for green jobs, green youth entrepreneurship, and innovative financing? What policies or innovative strategies are required to promote green jobs with a focus on youth? These were some of the questions that were raised and discussed. The meeting in Bangkok also highlighted that youth development is an important accelerator for making progress in all of the three aspects of sustainable development – environmental, economic and social.

Representatives from the Macroeconomic Policy and Development Division of ESCAP presented how macroeconomic policies could facilitate the creation of more productive job opportunities that were also associated with a lower carbon footprint. Also, as a concrete example, Mr. Kenichi Sannabe, Deputy Counselor of Cabinet Secretariat of Japan introduced their “Rebirth of Japan” strategy and how it aims to achieve green jobs and growth together.

The results of the meeting will contribute to the follow-up of the Rio+20 outcome document “The Future We Want” with regard to green jobs and youth employment, and provide policy recommendations and proposals for the relevant intergovernmental bodies.

Emphasizing the important role of youth as catalysts for change, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also stated, “from their pivotal role in efforts to achieve freedom, democracy and equality, to their global mobilization in support of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development Rio+20, youth have energetically demonstrated yet again their capacity and desire to turn the tide of history and tackle global challenges.”

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