The Green Jobs Initiative

The Green Jobs Initiative promotes opportunity, equity and a just transition towards green economy and solutions to defining challenges such as sustainable development and climate change. It encourages governments, employers and workers to collaborate on coherent policies and programmes to realize a sustainable and just transition with green jobs and decent work for all.


Climate change and the excessive use of scarce resources are prompting urgent calls for a shift towards more sustainable development and greener economies. China is implementing active environmental and employment policies, among other efforts, to realize a resource-saving and environmentally friendly economy as its development goal. The promotion of green jobs is central to this transition. For the ILO, the notion of green jobs summarizes the transformation of economies, enterprises, workplaces and labour markets into a sustainable, low-carbon economy providing decent work. But much needed innovative strategies to promote green jobs can only succeed with the full involvement and participation of workers and enterprises.

The ILO is firmly convinced that a green economy and green jobs present a significant opportunity to overcome poverty and inequality by creating more and better jobs. This transformation of economies can therefore make a major contribution to inclusive growth and to decent work for all. Relevant reports and experiences in countries show that a transition to a green economy can lead to net gains in employment and particularly benefit those who have been short-changed by the conventional economic growth model: the poor, youth and women. These gains for sustainable development and poverty reduction are not automatic. A green economy is not socially inclusive and sustainable by default, but coherent policies can maximize opportunities and buffer the social cost of the transition.

The transformation into a green economy will mean job opportunities for many but also down-sides. Some sectors will see much slower growth or even downsizing with a loss of employment for workers and communities dependent on them. These downsides will be strongest in high resource consumption and carbon intensive economic sectors. For these situations we need just transitions for enterprises, workers and communities including access to social protection, to new skills and to alternative employment and income opportunities.

Project objectives

The project aims to support its constituents, namely government, enterprises, and workers, to move towards a socially fair transition to low carbon and green economy at national and local level.

Jobs are green when they help reduce negative environmental impact and ultimately lead to environmentally, economically and socially sustainable enterprises and economies. Green jobs are decent jobs that:

  • Reduce consumption of energy and raw materials;
  • Limit greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Minimize waste and pollution; and
  • Protect and restore ecosystems.

Green jobs can be created in all sectors and types of enterprises, in urban and rural settings, and in sub-national regions at all levels of economic development.

Project activities

The ILO Green Jobs programme as a whole undertakes different forms of action, including:

  • Conducting research on the social dimension of environmental changes;
  • Developing tools to diagnose green jobs and their potential;
  • Building capacity and providing policy advice to constituents (workers, employers and governments); and
  • Participating in international forums on climate change and sustainable development.

Specifically in China, the project focuses on:

  • Policy and knowledge development, including providing technical support and skills to build capacities for constituents to understand green jobs as a means for socially inclusive and just transition;
  • Green products and service development, including environmentally friendly entrepreneurship training programmes, particularly targeting youth employment and vulnerable groups;
  • Greening production and service processes, focusing on greening the production, supply and service provisions in small and medium enterprises;
  • Improving green but not decent jobs, taking into account the occupational safety and health measures in critical sectors, and the formalization and greening of informal sectors; and
  • Contributing to social security, focusing on linking social security schemes with re-skilling of workers from environmentally unsustainable sectors as a consequence of economic restructuring.

For further information please contact:

Ms Qian Cheng
Programme Officer
ILO Country Office for China and Mongolia
Tel: + 86 10 6532 5091