The transition to a net zero economy is not only essential to stopping climate change, but it’s also creating millions of new jobs too. A global focus on sustainability from companies, organisations and governments around the world has seen 3-4.2 million green jobs created over the last decade: a figure which is only set to rise.

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012 placed them centre stage with the creation of The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); a universal set of goals that aim to meet the urgent environmental, political and economic challenges facing our world. The SDGs are a bold commitment and if they are to be met by the 2030 deadline a significant increase in workers skilled to deliver them is required. The race is on to build a global workforce for a sustainable future.

So what are green jobs? According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), green jobs are “positions in agriculture, manufacturing, R&D, administrative, and service activities aimed at substantially preserving or restoring environmental quality.” Check out our infographic below to learn more about the fastest growing green jobs, their economic value, and why the creation of environmental jobs is so important to fighting climate change.

Are you passionate about the future of our planet? If you’re exploring careers in climate change and development, and you want to join the professional community leading the transition to sustainability, our online Masters courses in Energy Policy or Sustainable Development could be the next step you need to make that happen.

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Growing career opportunities in renewable energies and sustainability

An increasing focus on climate change is generating a considerable number of new sustainability and green energy jobs.

3-4.2 million

green jobs were created over the last decade, and this figure is expected to rise for the decade ahead.

Fastest growing green jobs:

Urban Growers

Water Quality Technicians

Clean Car Engineers


Natural Scientists

Green Builders

Solar Cell Technicians

Green Design Professionals

Wave Energy Producers

Wide Energy Workers

Biofuel Engineers

Biofuel Researchers

Working in a green job can contribute to:

Expansion of renewable energy
Building a clean energy economy
Increase of vehicle fuel efficiency
Limiting carbon polluters are allowed to emit
Reducing tropical deforestation
Implementing effective national and regional climate policies

The International Labour Organisation projects the net creation of 18 million green jobs by 2030, including 4 million in manufacturing and 9 million in renewables and construction.

A global food and agriculture system could: create new economic value of over €1.8 trillion by 2030 and create 200 million jobs by 2050.

The International Resource Panel, part of the UN’s Environment Programme, says that using resources more effectively could increase the size of the global economy by $2 trillion by 2050.

Improving resource productivity by 30% could boost EU GDP by 1% and create a further 2 million jobs.

900,000 jobs in the field of renewable energy technologies can be created by 2030 by mobilising public and private investment.

In road transport, over half a million net additional jobs could be created in Europe by 2030 by meeting existing fuel efficiency targets.

The Environmental Agency (UK) has a workforce of around 10,600, with plenty of graduate jobs available.

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) employs more than 2,500 people across the UK.

More than 4 in 10 firms in Latin America claim that they have difficulty finding workers with the right set of skills.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) states that in Latin America and the Caribbean, a minimum of 1 million jobs are generated as a result of the use of renewable energy.

The ILO also states that the region could generate another 4 million jobs with the development of the ‘circular economy.’ This economic model promotes the reuse, the repair, the recycling, the re-manufacture, and greater durability of products, as an alternative to the linear model of extraction, manufacture, use, and disposal.

The Development Bank of Southern Africa has found that the share of activities associated with natural resource management is estimated total employment potential rises from around 45% in the short term to almost 50% in the long term.

In the same report, the DBSA found that new direct employment opportunities in energy and resource efficiency activities are expected to rise, on average, from around 31,500 (32% of the total) in the short term, to almost 68,000 or just under 15% of the total in the long term.

In Nigeria, the biofuels industries which rely on cassava and sugarcane crops are expected to generate 200,000 jobs, which can be transformative in a developing economy.

Why action must be taken now:

Only 57 countries (60% of global emissions) are on track to meet their commitments by 2030.

To achieve the goal of limiting climate change to 2°C, countries need to triple the level of their commitments made under the Paris Agreement.

Around 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihood.

In 2017, 77 million Nigerians (40% of the population) had no access to affordable, reliable and sustainable electricity. Diesel-and petrol-fuelled back-up generators supply the vast majority of electricity in the country.

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