The 2008 United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Report estimates that the global market for environmental products and services will double from the current $1.37 trillion per year to $2.74 trillion by 2020.
India is one of the latest to join the green jobs bandwagon. A 2008 UNEP report calculates that India will witness the creation of around a million jobs in the biogas sector alone in the next two years. This new, emerging green sector includes jobs that range from being an environmental architect who designs sustainable homes to organic farmers or even environmental engineers who can plan utilities that use natural resources like water recycling systems.
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) defines green jobs, also known as green collar jobs, as “work in agricultural, manufacturing, research and development (R&D), administrative, and service activities that contribute substantially to preserving or restoring environmental quality.” To answer the call, India held its first green jobs fair in November 2009.
The Indian government is also providing an impetus for green jobs as part of restructured growth strategies after the recession. In June 2010, the International Labor Organization (ILO) piloted its Green Jobs Program in collaboration with the Indian government through a two-day national conference in New Delhi, with the aim of promoting a greener economy and creating environmentally friendly employment opportunities. Around ten to 11 million people join the job market every year and creating green jobs is an ideal way to meet that demand.
As green jobs become much sought after in India, there has also been an explosion in the number of courses devoted to green technology. In 2009, wind energy giant Suzlon Group, joined up with The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) University, situated in New Delhi to introduce a Masters in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. A lot of other renowned educational stalwarts like Delhi University, Pune University, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai and the Indian Institution of Technology (IIT) have all incorporated ‘green’ courses at the Bachelors, Masters and even PhD level. “As the need evolves, green jobs will become more specialized, which will then open up specialized training courses,” observes Pavan Bhatia, executive director (HR) at Pepsi India.
Emerging economies such as India will have higher net job creation
of green jobs because there will be less substitution of high-carbon
infrastructure and jobs, predicts Peter Poschen, the head of Job Creation
and Enterprise Development, ILO and also a green jobs expert.
Do these courses help build a career? Newly set up websites dedicated to showcasing green jobs illustrate the wide range of opportunities present in the green sector, from working with NGOs to internships to full-fledged roles. “We are planning to bring in environmental engineers and economists on board in the coming months, to help us cut down on environmental waste and chart out a course for the future,” affirms SG Choudhary, chief sustainability and technology officer at Tata Chemicals. As more corporates become environment conscious, there is no dearth of employment opportunities.
One of the rapidly advancing sectors demanding green jobs is real estate, according to a recent study by Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL). With corporate heavyweights like Wipro, Microsoft, Cognizant and Infosys already operating out of green spaces or planning to in the near future, India will clear 45 million sq ft of land for green buildings by 2012, the study estimates. “There will be a huge demand for people who can certify green buildings, and architects and project planners who are adept in green building norms,” projects Abhishek Kiran Gupta, chief of research and intelligence services at JLL.
But such corporate players, let alone entrepreneurs, are rare in Russia. Energy efficiency projects are expensive and unless there is funding from both state and private sectors, implementation will be difficult. Plus, Russian infrastructure needs a long-pending revamp to prevent waste. Nikolai Shvets, head of the country’s power distribution grid holding MRSK, laments that half of the company’s 3.2 million mile long power transmission lines are frayed and need prompt replacement. Medvedev himself has pointed out that Russia’s badly insulated buildings leak $38.5 billion worth of heat in a year.
In fact, green jobs seem to be booming across the world. U.S. President Barack Obama hopes that his commitment to clean energy “leads to more than 800,000 jobs by 2012. And that’s not just creating work in the short term, that’s going to help lay the foundation for lasting economic growth,” he adds in a short speech he gave after a tour of a clean technology company in Wisconsin. Meanwhile, the EU is promoting its newly formulated plan of ‘Europe 2020,’ which includes green growth to step up its competitiveness. Already, a 2009 study by the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWFN) shows that around 3.4 million European jobs are directly related to renewable energy, clean technology and energy efficiency services.
Yet, it is India’s green overhaul that is getting global economies interested. Businesses in the EU are being attracted by India’s attention to green growth and expansion of environment friendly industries. There is even a European Business and Technology Centre (EBTC) that has been established in India to facilitate trade between India and Europe.
India was one of the few countries who managed to largely stave off the recession by wisely boosting domestic consumption and guaranteeing jobs. Now, it might well be on its way to leveraging the clean environment effort into an employment boon.