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Crisis and unemployment? Eco-innovation is a green solution for jobs


A recent report by MEP Karin Kadenbach (Austrian, S&D) calls on Member States and the European Commission to boost eco-innovation in order to spur growth and create new green jobs throughout Europe.

The concept of ‘green jobs’ needs to be better defined and include sectors other than protecting biodiversity and the natural environment. European eco-industries have an annual turnover of EUR 319 billion and currently employ 3.4 million people. Green jobs are usually well paid and involve better working conditions than jobs in other sectors.

Kadenbach’s report, “Eco-innovation - Jobs and Growth through environmental policy”, shows the statistical proof that green jobs are a key for European economic recovery. While nearly every sector has suffered big losses in recent years, the green sector, despite having suffered a drop in growth, is still increasing. Around 600,000 additional jobs in this field were created between 2004 and 2008. The annual growth rate in employment in all subsectors between 2000 and 2008 was roughly 7%.

The Kadenbach report calls on the European Commission to invest more resources, provide a platform for a better coordination of Member States and clarify the concept of green jobs itself in order to boost eco-innovation.

“In times of the economic crisis, we have a golden opportunity to give an impetus to the financial sector to drive forward the green economy,” MEP Kadenbach said. “Therefore we need funding not only to support research and development, but to guarantee that SMEs have access to the financial market to facilitate their long term planning.”

MEP Kadenbach underscored in the report that “improvement has to be made regarding the definition of ‘green jobs’, as the existing one gives no information about the nature of the occupation”. Defining green jobs as those involved with protecting biodiversity and the natural environment is not enough anymore. “An improved definition should also include some minimum standards of working conditions and calculate the net employment effects for the creation of green jobs and growth,” MEP Kadenbach stated in the report.

The report was discussed and approved by a show of hands by the European Parliament on 12 December 2013. Commissioner for Agriculture Dacian Ciolos, who attended the discussion in Strasbourg, added that “further innovation in eco-industries, energy efficiency and the efficient use of resources is also necessary in the interest of enhancing the EU business and competitiveness.”