How green jobs can be a solution to unemployment and climate change in Africa

31 October 2022

Transitioning towards a ‘green economy’ can not only create a more sustainable and healthy planet, but also give countless opportunities for African youth employment. Creating green jobs is therefore essential to support a green transition.

According to a report of the International Labour Organization, more than 24 million of such green jobs could be created globally in the next 20 years.[i]  But what do green jobs look like in practice? And how can they be stimulated and improved?  To help answer these questions, INCLUDE and Palladium initiated a research project in the context of the Challenge Fund for Youth Employment (CFYE). Key insights from the resulting green jobs insight paper are presented in this blog.


What are green jobs?

Green jobs are jobs in green businesses that contribute appreciably to maintaining or restoring environmental quality and avoiding future damage to the Earth’s ecosystems while also generating and supporting the wellbeing of people.


Green jobs in practice

To understand what green jobs look like in practice and to identify the factors that influence the (potential) impact of businesses on green job growth for youth, the research team conducted case studies on CFYE businesses.


From analysis of both the literature and the cases of the CFYE, four key factors came to light:

  1. Five green job sectors have the most potential to stimulate green job growth in Africa. These include sectors like the agricultural sector, where a move towards more sustainable farming practices could boost employment, or the infrastructure sector, as investments in green public transport will open doors for different types of labour.
  2. The green business strategy refers to a business’ green objectives within its own sector. These could focus on directly generating new goods or services that benefit the environment, such as green housing or clean transportation. A green business strategy could also consist of making existing processes more environmentally friendly, for instance by reducing water consumption.
  3. Climate action refers to the efforts of a business to reduce emissions, through climate mitigation, or to help society deal with the consequences of climate change, through adaptation. Although jobs created as part of mitigation or adaptation investments can both be considered green, it is important to maintain a balance between the two: both types of climate action and green jobs are needed.
  4. Addressing shortages of (green) skills can increase businesses’ environmental impact. These do not necessarily have to be ‘green’ skills - such as engineering skills[ii] for solar panel installation workers - but rather encompass a range of soft- and other more general skills.


Looking at green job creation through this lens can help businesses formulate specific strategies to start working towards a green economy.


How to stimulate green employment

One can choose between different pathways to realise the full potential of the green economy - and to ensure decency of created jobs.

Building on the knowledge generated from examining green jobs in practice, the model depicted below shows examples of pathways that can be followed to address barriers and leverage opportunities for green job creation. The model has four main themes: 1) the green business strategy; 2) green financing; 3) green skills and 4); green awareness.


Enabling change

By using these pathways as guidance, stakeholders have the opportunity to capitalise on the green transformation of the economy to create a plurality of job opportunities for youth in Africa. However, green jobs do not emerge automatically or by default. It requires dedicated joint action. Political will and a concerted effort from all stakeholders - national African governments, international donors, the private sector, trade unions and civil society organisations - is therefore needed to stimulate green job sectors and green employment and build realistic pathways for a green economic transition.


Do you want to learn more about the transition towards a green economy and how to prepare African youth for the future of work? Find the recommendations for a joint effort in the green jobs insight paper.



[i] International Labour Organization (ILO) (2018). World Employment and Social Outlook 2018: Greening with jobs. Retrieved from:

[ii] Vona, F., Marin, G., Consoli, D., & Popp, D. (2015). Green skills (No. w21116). National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved from: