September 25, 2008

‘India Needs to Start Thinking about Greening the Economy’

India needs to start thinking about “greening” the economy and the jobs that people depend on. It has the potential to generate 900,000 jobs by 2025. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) could also become a powerful mechanism for helping poor communities to invest in building durable assets. In an email exchange with FE, Stephan Pursey, director policy integration and statistics department and senior adviser to the director-general, International Labour Organisation shares his views about the opportunity for India within the green economy and the impact in near future. Excerpts: 

How much potential does India hold for green jobs?

A good example is the way the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) has helped introduce modern bicycle rickshaws in India. Their numbers have grown from 20,000 in 2003 to more than 3,00,000 at present. The new design weighs 30% less and a multi-gear system makes pedalling considerably easier. These changes have led to increased incomes of 20–50% as rickshaw operators were able to work for longer. Also, improved comfort and safety attracted new passengers, including some who previously rode highly-polluting motorised rickshaws. Not only do the livelihoods of operators improve, but manufacturing the modernised rickshaw in India may open new green job opportunities.

The NREGA could also become a powerful mechanism for helping poor communities to invest in building durable assets and generate employment. A recent report by the Centre for Science and Environment in New Delhi—The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) Opportunities and Challenges—makes a powerful case for ensuring that the new Act contributes to environmental as well as social and economic sustainability. There is also huge potential for job creation in the biomass sector. The report cites estimates of 900,000 jobs by 2025.

Which types of environment-friendly companies would be attractive for job seekers?

The market for sustainable products and production by sustainable means is growing. Small businesses can find opportunities to save fuel costs and become more productive. Agriculture, tourism, construction, transport as well as manufacturing are sectors where we can expect that shifts towards low carbon emissions will create business and employment opportunities.

Grabbing the chances will need access to investment finance and training in new skills such as renewable energy technologies. Already some banks and training institutes can see these shifts and are adapting to provide new services to support green jobs. China has a green venture capital industry that has…

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‘India Needs to Start Thinking about Greening the Economy’

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