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Green jobs: different names, same thing? Perspectives from half-year reflection of the project’s milestones

The change to a greener economy offers important opportunities to create decent jobs and create social inclusion, besides leading the global economy to a path of sustainable growth…These changes give an opportunity to change all the shortcomings in the forest sector.

(Forest Europe, 2014)

Written by Juliet Achieng

The mention of green jobs elicits different reactions among people. For some, it is the hope of better tidings for the forest sector, for others it’s just a fancy term that has no clear meaning while for others it just brings more confusion and questions than answers. But who will shed light on this buzz word? The Green Jobs project brings together three international organizations (European Forest Institute, International Union of Forest Research Organizations and International Forestry Students Association) with research and networking prowess to attempt to give answers to this puzzle. We also aim to shed light on the changes in employment that have been happening as well as the drivers of these changes in different regions and what trends could be anticipated in the future with regards to employment in the sector. Skills and competencies needed for future employment are also a vital component of our project. Through a clearly defined research approach, consisting of a literature review, workshop, survey and rapid employers’ interviews, we aim to adequately tackle these topics and provide a more elaborate picture. 

It is already seven months since the Green Jobs project was launched at the EFI Bonn office. Have we achieved our goals? Are we on the right track? Do we have an understanding of what green jobs are or are we part of the confused masses? As a project, we have been actively engaged in networking activities and have been part of relevant events. Skills and competencies needs are a very crucial part of the ongoing debate and on 19-21 June 2019, I was in Dresden, attending the annual SILVA Network Conference. The conference brought together educators, students and other stakeholders to share their experiences on the lessons learned, challenges faced and opportunities available for higher forest education, as well as deliberate on the way forward for equipping the future forest leaders with the relevant skills relevant for the job market.

Due to the immense attention that the topic is receiving globally, I was able to attend a Green jobs experts workshop in Madrid on 25-27 June 2019 organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization. The Madrid sun was scorching, but that did not deter the renowned Team of Specialists from the UNECE member countries and the invited participants from availing themselves for the event. The discussions were centered around the theme of “Facing challenges, exploring opportunities and increasing the capacity of UNECE member states”. The flow of ideas from the renowned experts matched quite well with the magnificent scenery at the University Polytechnique of Madrid. In terms of showcasing our project, we have mastered the art and I was able to share some insights on how we are addressing the topic through our project activities. Our presentation on reality check for green jobs was the highlight of the second day of the workshop and sparked interesting discussions on the need for aligning forest education and training activities with the future needs. The presentation was unique in the sense that it highlighted the need of forest education and need for engaging the youth. After the discussion, there was increased enthusiasm on how the youth can be involved in such discussions.

More events await us, and we can confidently say that the future of green jobs is bright!

For more information about the project, please visit: http://www.ifsa.net/efi-ifsa-iufro-project/

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