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ASEAN Countries are Promoting Green Jobs as the region is driving towards a just transition to Inclusive and Sustainable Economies.



By 2030, Southeast Asian economies could provide up to $1 trillion in annual economic opportunities.  In line with this unprecedented growth, ASEAN governments have announced national targets to achieve net-zero emission and gear up policies towards green economy.  Brunei Darussalam, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam are committed to achieving net zero by 2050, while Cambodia has targeted a carbon-neutral economy by 2050.  Indonesia, ASEAN’s largest economy, has targeted net-zero emissions by 2060.  Myanmar is set to achieve net zero emissions from land use, land use change and forestry by 2040.  Thailand aims for carbon neutrality by 2050 and net zero by 2065.  However, the Philippines does not have a defined net zero target but has committed to reducing GHG emissions by 75% by 2030. 

 

With this ambitious effort, this fast-growing emerging green economy is projected to generate upwards of 30 million green jobs in the region. 

 

The 5 key sectors, both in traditional and emerging green sectors, which have high employment potentials are: 


1.Waste Management 

The ASEAN market generated 243 million tons of waste in 2016 alone.  Several Southeast Asian countries have developed national strategies for circular economies and, in 2021, ASEAN adopted the Framework for Circular Economy for the ASEAN Economic Community to accelerate the journey to a low-carbon economy.  Circular economy promotes responsible consumption and production practices, and aims to maximize the value of products throughout their lifecycles and prevent wastage as much as possible.  The growth in circular economy opportunities is expected to create 6.6 million jobs by 2030.   


2.Electric Mobility 

Transportation is the second-largest energy-consuming sector in the ASEAN market and vehicle electrification has become one of emerging opportunities in many countries. The growth rate of electronic vehicles in six countries in ASEAN, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, hits 16%-39% between 2021 and 2035 and expect US$80b-US$100b from sales volume of 8.5 million units by 2035.  By 2030, this sector is projected to produce US$50 billion in annual revenue. 

 

3.Sustainable Farming 

Agriculture is a key sector for the ASEAN economy and a major source of employment.  The economic value from greener fertilizer practices, agricultural innovation and modernized greenhouse and farmer services can produce US$30 billion in annual revenue by 2030. 


4.Built Environment 

Buildings account for 23 percent of energy use and 24 percent of carbon emissions and greening of this sector has high carbon-abatement potential.  The opportunities have attracted the corporate investors and infrastructure funds.  The sector represents a US$40 billion annual revenue opportunity by 2030.  


5.Solar 

Southeast Asia has experienced rapid growth in solar capacity and it will account for more than half of all renewable energy jobs across Southeast Asia by 2025.  The sector represents a US$20 billion annual revenue opportunity by 2030.   

 

Despite the 5 key sectors in the green industries, the job opportunities are not limited to people from particular background and experiences.  The International Labour Organization (ILO) defines green jobs as decent jobs that contribute to preserving or restoring the environment.  It, in fact, requires multiple skills and offers opportunities from people from diverse background and with different skillsets.  Further than the market-driven employment opportunities, ASEAN Member States, governments, policymakers, business leaders, investors, as well as NGO representatives, should collaborate to agree on common and workable definition of green jobs, analyze labor markets to highlight where green jobs potentials are, and identify skills needed for workforce development programs.  It is also crucial to connect job vacancies with potential employees, ensure equitable hiring practices, and make these opportunities accessible to underserved individuals and communities, for ASEAN to achieve a just transition to a green, inclusive and sustainable community that leaves no one behind. 

 

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