Spain’s green economy could create two million jobs by 2020

110,000 work in waste management
110,000 work in waste management

Spain has enormous potential for job creation within its “green economy”, which could generate two million jobs in the next decade if appropriate policies are adopted, said the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in a report.

Entitled “Green Jobs for Sustainable Development – The case of Spain,” the report says that renewable energies could generate 125,265 jobs by 2020, 81.5% more than at present, if this industry generates a minimum of 20% of primary energy production.

The number of jobs in sustainable transport, including services, industrial activities and construction of related infrastructures, could increase by 40% by 2020, up to 770,000 jobs.

According to the ILO, the potential is much greater in construction: the renovation of 25 million homes with better insulation and improved energy efficiency, they say “could generate up to 1.37 million jobs”.

In addition, the field of waste management, which at present employs at least 110,000 people, could generate 27,850 additional jobs by 2016, to which is added the “strong potential” for job creation in the sectors of metallurgy, cement and paper, especially in the area of recycling.

Currently, according to ILO figures, there are between 400,000 and 500,000 “green jobs” in Spain, which represents about 2.2% of the working population, contributing 25,000 million euros to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 2.4% of the total.

The report, prepared by the organisation “Sustainlabour”, with technical assistance from the ILO, emphasises that the creation of jobs in this sector can play a key role in dealing with the current pace of job losses and the recession in Spain.

The document is based on figures from the Observatory of Sustainability in Spain (SBI) and the Foundation for Biodiversity (FB), which estimated at one million the number of new potential jobs in this sector in Spain, depending on political support.

“The green economy provides a good opportunity to increase competitiveness, promote the creation of quality jobs and reduce the environmental impact of the economy,” said Joaquín Nieto, head of the ILO office in Madrid.

“This is particularly relevant at a time when Spain needs to jump-start its economy,” said Nieto.

El Mundo reported that recent studies have indicated that green sectors in Europe have faced the economic and financial crisis better than others, especially in regard to maintaining employment.

The report warns that the severity of the recession, combined with the austerity measures taken by the Spanish Government to address the problem, are threatening the creation of jobs in the green economy.

The ILO defines green jobs as “jobs that reduce the consumption of energy and raw materials, limit emissions of greenhouse gases, minimise waste and pollution, and protect and regenerate the ecosystems”.

The report also reminded that the development of the sector needs a comprehensive approach, with incentives and business support, expansion of social protection, training policies for workers and social dialogue between employers and unions.

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