Towards a green economy
alone might be insufficient or unnecessarily expensive if policy-makers fail to take into account issues such as the grid infrastructure or obstructive planning permission processes (OECD/IEA 2008).
Enforcement of laws and regulations is another area of importance. The effectiveness of any policy tool is dependent upon a chain of actors and institutions working together to ensure it is appropriately implemented – from verifying the use of appropriate award of tenders in sustainable public procurement to ensuring that environmentally related taxation is being levied on relevant economic activity. Financial, administrative and technical capacity is required to adequately monitor compliance, and robust institutions, including social and cultural norms, as well as enforcement organisations with adequate authority, are needed to ensure that the appropriate penalties can be levied where protocol and regulations are violated.
Intergovernmental organisations, international
financial institutions, NGOs, the private sector, and the international community as a whole can play a role in providing technical and financial assistance in developing countries. Enabling a smooth transition to a green economy will require a sustained international effort by these actors. The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development summit in 2012 (Rio+20) provides an invaluable opportunity for the international community to promote green economy action given that one of the two themes for the summit is “a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication” (General Assembly Resolution 64/236). The commitment and action by governments, international organisations and others over the next two years will determine whether the summit provides the impetus and direction required for driving the transition.
In addition, the United Nations and its partners have a long history of supporting national capacity building and training activities and can utilise this expertise to support national green economy efforts. Current efforts are underway within the UN system through the Environmental Management Group to harmonise green economy support at the national level. Under this initiative, 32 organisations from the UN system are developing an inter-agency assessment report on how the expertise of the different UN agencies, funds and programmes can contribute to supporting countries in the transition to a green economy (Environmental Management Group 2010).
Moreover, South-South cooperation is critical: many developing country experiences and successes in achieving a green economy can provide valuable impetus, ideas and means for other developing countries to address similar concerns – particularly given the impressive
gains and leadership that have been demonstrated in practice (UNEP 2010e). South-South cooperation can thus increase the flow of information, expertise and technology at a reduced cost. More broadly, as countries take steps towards a green economy, formal and informal global exchanges of experiences and lessons learned can prove a valuable way to build capacity.
3.2 Investing in training and education
Training and skill enhancement programmes will be needed to prepare the workforce for a green economy transition. A joint study between UNEP, ILO and other partners found that the impact on workers from a green economic transition will vary greatly depending on the specific economic sector and country in question. In some cases, the transition could mean that jobs would be lost, and in other cases, it is expected that new green jobs would be created. Available studies on a sectoral and economy-wide level suggest that, on balance, there will be more jobs in a green economy (UNEP 2008b). Renewable energy, for example, creates more jobs per dollar invested, per unit of installed capacity and per unit of power generated than conventional power generation. Likewise, public transport tends to generate more employment than reliance on individual cars and trucks (UNEP 2008c). It is also estimated that the pace of green job creation is likely to accelerate in the future (UNEP 2008b).
Rather than replacing existing jobs with entirely new green jobs, however, it is the content of the jobs (e.g. the way the work is performed and the skills of the workers) that will often change (ILO 2008). A skilled workforce is a prerequisite for a green economy, and it may be necessary to focus education efforts on aligning skills with the needs of the labour market. This is particularly relevant for the so-called STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) disciplines. A number of jobs throughout the economy are expected to be transformed to respond to a more energy and resource efficient economy. For instance, builders will remain in the same employment, but start to provide new, green services. These shifts signal the need for training and skill enhancement of the workforce.
Current shortages in skilled labour could frustrate efforts by governments
to transition to a green economy
and deliver the expected environmental benefits and economic returns. For instance, almost all energy sub- sectors lack skilled workers with the most pronounced shortages found in the hydro, biogas and biomass sectors. Shortages are also pressing for manufacturing in the renewable
energy industry, particularly for
engineers, operation and maintenance staff and site management (UNEP 2008b). Given this, it is essential that governments work with employers to close the current