Green Jobs and Youth: The keys to recovering economically, environmentally and socially from COVID-19 by Karen Proa
Since the pandemic began, the economic and social crisis has exploded, further highlighting the inequalities and making many groups of the society more vulnerable. One of the consequences of this pandemics it was the declining employment opportunities affecting especially the youth.
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), more than one in six young people have stopped working since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic while those who remain employed have seen their working hours cut by 23 percent. The ILO also indicates that more than four in 10 young people, aged 15-24, employed globally were working in hard-hit sectors when the crisis began and nearly 77% of this cohort were in informal jobs, compared to 60% of adult workers aged 25 and above. This means also, losses in the global economy.
We are talking about young people who are just starting their careers, raising their businesses, want to innovate, they have to pay their education or It is the only way of economic income they had. According to the ILO, around one-fifth of young people worldwide (267 million) were already not in employment, education or training before the onset of the health crisis while more than three-quarters of those in employment were in informal jobs. So, we are facing a very complicated situation, and, as the ILO Director-General Guy Ryder has pointed, "If we do not take significant and immediate action to improve the situation of youth, the legacy of the virus could be with us for decades”.
After this pandemic, we will have to reconsider our economic and employment system, questioning ourselves: Why it didn’t work? How can we recover jobs and how to get more opportunities for everyone, including young people, and reduce the inequalities that always be there but were more visible during these pandemics? and, How to ensure that this pandemics and crisis not happen again and affect future generations?
As a part of the youth, I definitely would say that one of the most workable and sustainable alternative solutions to recovering from COVID-19 is pushing green and circular economy through Green jobs.
Green jobs are decent jobs that restore and preserve the environment, either by improving manufacturing processes, the final product, or both and, at the same time, ensure good quality of life for the workers and their families. For example, expanding clean and renewable energies, pushing for organic and local agriculture, developing technologies to help us have access to greener manufacturing processes and cleaner transportation, investing in conservation activities and eco-tourism, and supporting emerging green businesses.
Also, green jobs highlighting the importance of think about how the environment is related to our economies and society and how working on these 3 concepts as one help us to prevent more crisis like this.
Why it is important to change our jobs system to greener jobs and starting to change our behaviors to take care of our environment and society? Well, because a healthy environment means no more pandemics and crises like this.
We have had an economic system that the goal to reach it is the economic development at any cost, it doesn't matter if we destroy nature to achieve this, we have destroyed entire ecosystems, killed many animals and, we have almost wiped out the resources of future generations. All of these behaviors of consumption brought us here. According to The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), More than 70% of all emerging diseases like COVID-19, that have affected the people were originated in wildlife and domesticated animals. Human activities like deforestation, uncontrolled expansion of agriculture, intensive farming, mining and infrastructure development, and, the exploitation of wild species, besides accelerating climate change, have forced wildlife species to seek a home closer to human cities and populations creating the perfect conditions to bring the people into direct contact with species that carry on with pathogens that caused this type of virus. That's why it is urgent to start to work creating and developing green jobs and the youth are the main source to achieve that. Youth is the key. If the youth of this generation have opportunities to create and have green jobs, we can say that future generations will be better off. We will have more resilient economies, we will have healthy environments, and that means we can prevent other pandemics and crises as a consequence like this.
Most of the time, the youth have had fewer opportunities to get a good job because we are considering as people with no experience or because we have different ideas but the reality is that the youth of this generation is more aware of how important is our planet and nature around, we have been spreading awareness on the new and old generations about that and fighting to take a place in the decision-making process concerning the climate change and environment, we are taking action to create a better future, we are adopting more sustainable lifestyles and, we are very conscious about the social inequalities that our behavior on the last century have caused. We have the energy, creativity, and fresh ideas to innovate and, create new job opportunities taking advantage of the technology and improving it as well.
Then, how can we include the youth in the transition to green jobs from the government, the oldest generation who are into the decision-making processes, and business?
Ensuring the space for the youth to participate in the decision-making process
Providing subsidies for green startups by young people.
Ensuring access to financial schemes to help finance green initiatives from youth.
Ensuring social dialogue to integrate all realities including youth perspective into the policies to have a fair transition.
Providing educational programs in formal education to develop green skills and knowledge about Sustainable Development.
Investing in young people who are working to create new technologies that help us reduce the carbon print.
Creating policies to ensure decent jobs for everyone and push gender equality.
Bridge the intergenerational gap.
Investing in clean energy and ensure access to the most vulnerable populations.
Establishing links with youth organizations to participate in the implementation of green initiatives.
As a conclusion, this is a call for all governments, all people who are in decision-making spaces, all UN Member States and all the society to take action NOW for the environment, climate change, for future and work with the youth, IT IS URGENT.
We already saw and lived the consequences of our less importance about our planet, of believing that the development it means only economic growth, we realized that the inequalities exist and, this new reality after COVID-19 it is an excellent opportunity to not back to the same strategies that brought us to this difficult times, it is time to push new, green and sustainable alternatives and strategies to have a better future to offer to our young generations today and in the future, alternatives like green jobs that allow us to grow economically while we protect our planet and society, it is our opportunity to believe on our youth around the world and work together to ensure a fair transition, opportunities for everyone and no more crisis like this.
About the Author
Karen Proa has a bachelor's degree in International Relations and a master's degree in Conflict Resolution, Peace, and Development. She has around 5 years of experience managing projects related to peacebuilding in vulnerable communities and education for sustainable development, specifically for children and youth, in collaboration with The Earth Charter International and Scouts of Mexico. She also has 2 years of experience working on the management of climate action projects and is also an activist.