Green Skills - The Gateway to build a Resilient Future!!
The other day I was speaking to my grandmother about how to cook a traditional dish called ‘Valachi bhaji (Lima Beans).’ She told me about how they used to harvest the beans during winters but now we don’t do it as often because we don’t grow the beans anymore. Unfortunately, I have noticed that the Lima bean crops are not growing very well in recent years on our farms. Unseasonal rains, sudden fluctuation in temperatures, pollution, decrease in pollinator population, etc. have made the crop very susceptible to its pests. This is just one of the many examples where Environmental degradation is affecting our lives.
Human-centric development in the past century have altered nature to an extent where most of these natural systems are unable to cope. The industrial revolution and capitalist growth has exploited natural resources,, polluted the ecosystems and destroyed the biodiversity while altering the climactic system. It would be naive of us to believe that these impacts wouldn't impact us and selfish to leave it for the future generations to tackle the issues. The World Economic Forum in their Global Risks Report 2023 have touched upon the interconnectedness of cost of living and environmental risks while 6 to 7 out of the Top 10 Global Risks are environment related.
Human society & economy are dependent on our capacity to tackle these threats and work towards resilience and Green Skills shall play an important role in it. Here's 6 reasons why Green upskilling is a must in the current era: 1. Transition of the Economical Landscape.
The global economies are adopting strategies and innovating to move away from carbon intensive technology, not just for the natural environment, but for the betterment of communities and protection of worker's rights. Countries are pledging to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the next few decades, and we are witnessing how slowly renewable energy, zero-waste processes, carbon markets, ESG reporting, etc are becoming the popular trends of the new age.
2. Gap in demand and supply of Sustainability Experts causing Competence Greenwashing.
Post the Covid-19 pandemic has seen a rise in need for sustainbility measures within organisations and an increased demand for ESG frameworks. This has led to greater requirement of sustainability expertise. While the availability is low currently, legislative pressure pushes companies to hire incompetent individuals for token positions to maintain the sustainability reputation. This has led to competence based greenwashing due to absence of disciplinary diversity of climate & environmental skills.
3. Lack of systems approach with work happening in silos.
There are several complex social, environmental, and economic challenges that an institution has to face during its functioning. A ‘good’ economic practice might not be always socially and environmentally ‘good’. Similarly, a good environmental practice might not reap much economic benefits. Though companies follow certain guidelines for their practices; there is lack of interdisciplinary collaboration and alignment between their goals and objectives. We need skilled people to gap these bridges to make sure that there is collaborative approach towards any challenge a company might face.
"Simply put, green skills are the knowledge, abilities, values and attitudes needed to live in, develop and support a sustainable and resource-efficient society." - UNIDO
4. A Circular Economy is a must for resource efficiency and waste management.
We have touched the 8 billion mark as a population while overshooting our resource consumption annually with the current linear economy of ;Take-Make-Dispose.' The world faces a major challenge of resource scarcity and growing waste piles. A Circular Economy calls for sustainable and regenerative designs that will eliminate or reduce waste from a process; improve recyclability, ease of repairing, ethical and safe acquisition of raw materials, high efficiency and longevity of the product, etc. Our waste has a huge potential to generate a value. We need skilled engineers, material scientists and product designers that will follow a circular pathway while making new products, and utilise the current goods as raw materials while eliminating out waste.
5. Changing Trends in professional careers.
The next decade and century has pushed for an increase in demand for green careers and jobs including expertise in areas of renewable energy, waste management, urban agriculture, carbon accounting, design and innovation, etc. Parallely mainstream careers will also see an increased need for green skilling combined with automation and Artificial Intelligence for Data Management.
6. A healthy environment is a must for a Sustained Economy.
The increasing environmental crises has created extreme ecosystem, climate, and health risks. A healthy environment reduces costs and helps the economy. The COVID 19 pandemic is a classic example. It caused global impact disrupting normal lifestyles and widespread economical implications felt till now. Environmental disruption requires a lot of capital to be directed towards its resolution while threatened ecosystems would have socio-economic implications on tourism, health and wellbeing, food security, migration especially on the most vulnerable. The time for reactive management is gone and needs to be replaced by proactive management requiring the right skills.
Developing green skills and competencies at all the socio-economic levels will ensure that people are ready for making the transition for building a better future. Efforts taken today will help envision a a future for our next generation that is resilient, healthy, and aligned with nature.