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Spain to gain from growth in green jobs

An ILO-sponsored report shows that the green economy can help Spain beat the jobs crisis. The challenge is putting in place the right types of policies.

News | 17 August 2012
GENEVA (ILO News) – Transitioning to a green economy has a huge potential to create new jobs in Spain at a time when the crisis-hit country is reeling from a 50 per cent youth unemployment rate, according to a newly released report.

However, the report titled Green Jobs for Sustainable Development – The case of Spain, says the severity of the recession, coupled with the austerity measures adopted to counter it, are threatening the creation of green jobs.

Outlook on the growth of green jobs
in various sectors
  • Renewable energy could provide more than 125,265 jobs by 2020, up 81.5 per cent from today if 20 per cent of primary energy production is taken from renewable sources.
  • Sustainable transport: By 2020, the number of jobs in service activities, industrial activities and infrastructure construction linked to sustainable transport could increase by 40 per cent to 770,000.
  • Construction sector: Rehabilitating 25 million housing units – for better insulation and improved energy use - could generate up to 1.37 million jobs over time.
  • Waste management currently employs at least 110,000 workers. Studies indicate that by 2016, 27,850 jobs will have been created in that sector.
  • Basic industry: There is strong potential for job creation in the iron and steel, aluminium, cement and paper sectors, largely in recycling.
This will have “an important impact on employment and growth”, it adds.

At present, there are between 400,000 and 500,000 green jobs in Spain, an estimate which is equivalent to about 2.2 per cent of the country’s total employment. The green economy contributes an estimated € 25 billion per year, or 2.4 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The report – produced by Sustainlabour, with technical assistance from the ILO –stresses that creating green jobs can actually help beat the recession.

It cites figures from the Observatory on Sustainability in Spain (OSE) and the Biodiversity Foundation (FB), which indicate that more than 1 million green jobs could be created in Spain by 2020, depending on the level of policy support for those sectors which have a high potential to reactivate the economy.

“The green economy presents a good opportunity to increase competitiveness, promote the creation of quality employment and reduce the economy’s environmental impact,” says Joaquín Nieto, who heads the ILO Office in Madrid. “This is particularly relevant at a time when Spain needs to kick-start its economy.”

Recent studies have shown that green sectors in Europe have weathered the recession better than others by retaining more jobs. Earlier this year, the European Commission remarked that jobs growth in the eco-industry averaged 2.7 per cent a year from 2000 to 2008, compared to 1 per cent in the total economy.

The ILO defines green jobs as “decent jobs that reduce consumption of energy and raw materials, limit greenhouse gas emissions, minimize waste and pollution, and protect and restore ecosystems”.
It says that a comprehensive policy approach is essential to ensure that the momentum towards a greener economy is sustained.
This requires incentives and support for companies, the extension of social protection, income support and skills training measures for workers and social dialogue involving employers and trade unions.

For more information, please contact Patrick Moser, ILO press officer at or tel: +41(0)22/799-6348 or - Tel: +41(0)22/799-7912