The figures are on our side: The EU’s eco-industry has a current turnover of around EUR 700 billion, equivalent to 2.1 % of Europe’s GDP, and it is a world leader on the global market – a market which is expected to triple by 2030. Other figures show that resource efficiency policies enhance growth. A one percentage point reduction in material use in Europe would be worth up to EUR 23 billion to businesses and create between 100 000 and 200 000 new jobs.
Speaking at EU Green Week 2017, Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, said:
It’s not about white collar or blue collar jobs, it’s about moving to green collar. It’s about greening existing professions, getting the green know-how to people who already have the skills, but lack that particular knowledge that will make all the difference. We need to find ways of making green the new normal - initiatives under the EU's Circular Economy Action Plan and the Skills Agenda will help.
Boosting green growth and jobs are the hot topics at EU Green Week’s two-day high-level Green Jobs Summit taking place in Brussels. Participants are hearing about green jobs that are already up and running, as well as learning about current skills gaps which will need to be filled as the green transition moves forward.
Social partners like trade unions are key to getting the workers on board this green transition. Yesterday at Green Week, a coalition of social partners issued a joint statement stressing that the move towards a circular economy and more resource-efficient practices and processes requires a workforce with the necessary skills, knowledge and competences.
With events taking place across Europe, EU Green Week is highlighting how the green transition to a circular economy means net employment gains. New opportunities will be seen in renewable energy, recycling and waste management, organic farming, sustainable transport, the water sector and the maritime sector. But skills gaps and shortages – especially in Small and Medium-sized enterprises – must be addressed. Training needs to be adapted and forecasting future skills needs must be improved.
EU Green Week 2017 is also demonstrating how EU policies – like carbon cutting targets and growth in recycling – as well as funding can lead the way in sustainability. For example, in nature conservation EU funded projects have helped train thousands of workers, boosting local employment in rural and disadvantaged areas.
Meanwhile, the EU Ecolabel – celebrating 25 years of existence at a Green Week special event today – has boosted eco business development by being an excellent marketing tool. Some 2 000 companies now hold an EU Ecolabel licence for around 40 000 products ranging from detergents to tourist accommodation. The Ecolabel rewards innovative products and concepts which are sustainable, low carbon, and with increased recycling which are integral to the circular economy.
EU Green Week 2017 takes place from 29 May to 2 June – see the programme of events across Europe and find out more.