Green growth and development occupied pride of place in the Papandreou government’s Stability and Growth Programme, submitted to Brussels in January 2010. The green economy agenda was the first among the main policies aimed at enhancing economic growth and employment. The Programme reiterated the commitment to green growth and development as a »major priority for the country«, given the need to address the challenges of climate change and the country’s unexplored potential in renewable energy development (Ministry of Finance, Hellenic Stability and Growth Programme 2010: 40).
The green agenda was a horizontal strategy that cut across different sectors. The country’s green growth and sustainable development policy strategy seeked to change the energy mix by 2020, strengthen trade openness and upgrade the quality of products and services in a number of traditional and modern sectors, such as transportation, telecoms, port facilities, tourism and land development, culture, the agro-food industry, ICT and biotechnology (Ministry of Finance, Hellenic Stability and Growth Programme 2010: 40).
The effective implementation of the green strategy required important public investments in support activities, including education, research, innovative entrepreneurship, management of natural resources and public health. In addition to the national public investment budget, the green growth and development strategy was to be financed from EU structural funds (the National Support Reference Framework, 2007-13) and public–private partnerships.
The National Support Reference Framework (NSRF) was the key financial vehicle for supporting green development objectives; its importance was even greater given the government’s fiscal squeeze. The NSRF was scheduled to amount to 26.2 billion Euro (that is, corresponding to a little over 10 per cent of GDP) of co-financed public expenditure over the programme period 2007–13. However, a poor track record in the past suggested that actual absorption rates might end up being lower.
The government had committed itself to bringing to Parliament a new investment law on green development to provide further incentives for green growth and development activities, supporting energy-saving investments and greenfield investment in RSE, including the effective utilisation of water resources, modern waste management techniques and urban regeneration projects (ibid: 42). The government programme emphasised productive restructuring in sectors such as the agro-food industry, innovative start-ups, cluster development, ICT use and the promotion of exports. Given the expected recession, there was a strong emphasis on creating and retaining jobs, especially in areas with high unemployment.
A study commissioned by the Greek Confederation of Labour foresaw a possibility of 100,000 new jobs created by the green development strategy. These would mainly be jobs for skilled workers, if necessary, retrained before entering the job market. The estimate might have been on the optimistic side, but it indicated the potential of a green strategy. The promotion of sectors such as tourism and culture was also part of the green development strategy, through concerted policies and investment incentives for high-quality services, the diffusion of information and communication technologies, especially among small and medium-sized enterprises, modern transportation and communication infrastructure, port development and theme parks.
The Human Resource Development Authority of Cyprus (HRDA) has conducted a study entitled Identification of green skill needs in the Cyprus economy 2010-2013.
The study (available in Greek only) specifies the green economy of Cyprus, provides employment needs forecasts for sectors of economic activity and occupations of the green economy and identifies green skill needs for the period 2010-2013.
The results of the study confirm that the transition to the green economy will strongly affect sectors of economic activity and occupations, thus influencing the knowledge, skills and attitudes of the human resources. Consequently, to tackle the upcoming challenges and compete in a new economic environment, the enterprises need human resources that have the necessary green skills and competences.
In the study, forecasts are provided on employment, expansion, replacement and total demand in green sectors of economic activity and occupations for the period 2010-2013. Furthermore, green skills for both existing and new green occupations are identified.
The HRDA, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance, has put forward a Special scheme for promoting green skills in the Cyprus economy, which includes a variety of targeted measures that are directed towards enterprises, employees and the unemployed in 3 interlinked action pillars:
- Promotion of green skills for the unemployed
- Promotion of green skills for enterprises and employees
- Enhancement of infrastructures and systems for the promotion of green skills
The HRDA has declared the year 2011 as the Year of Green Skills with the aim to effectively promote and publicise the importance of the acquisition of green skills.
A 10-year plan for Malta to address its environmental issues and establish a green economy was launched last September by Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and Environment Parliamentary Secretary Mario de Marco.
The draft National Environmental Policy spans practically every eco issue, ranging from climate change to noise pollution. It also talks about job creation and environmental taxation.
The government aims to double the number of green jobs (to 10,000) by 2015, when it will also ensure that half of all public procurement adheres to the EU’s Green Public Procurement criteria.
The plans include halting the loss of biodiversity and preparing the country for climate change and other environmental risks. The policy deals with conservation of resources such as stone, fresh water and soil, as well as the importance of improving the physical appearance of towns and villages through, for example, the creation of more open spaces and pedestrian zones.
The policy also puts into perspective the government’s plans for eco-Gozo, where most of the plans will be fast-tracked.
Many of the roughly 200 proposals are already being implemented but the document is intended to provide a holistic account of the government’s direction when it comes to the environment.
In a four-page supplement, The Times summarised the 100-page document, which can be found on www.opm.gov.mt/ambjent.
Turkey needs alternative finance models to integrate into the green economy while decreasing carbon emission and implementing international requirements, said the head of the Turkish Industry and Business Association, or TÜSİAD, during a meeting in Istanbul last year.
“In order to increase our global competitiveness, Turkey should start working toward to a greener economy,” said Ümit Boyner, talking at a conference on finance for green economy organized by Regional Environmental Center.
“Turkey’s competitiveness depends on the possible finance models enabling further investments in low carbon economy,” said Boyner, noting that the association target was to contribute to forming such an economic model.
Turkey’s fast economic growth will increase the dependency on energy sources, she said. “We will have to make some decisions considering Turkey’s energy supply security.” Boyner said more national resources might be used for green energy. “Since Turkey depends on energy imports; it is not so easy to achieve targets right away.” “In order to meet the rising energy demand of the country, we need to invest nearly $200 billion in next 10 years,” said Boyner, adding that Turkey moves into a new term that requires less carbon emission energy sources and economic growth at the same time.
Commenting on the Kyoto Protocol, Boyner said it was late for Turkey to sign the agreement in 2009. “We could have benefited from the finance models implemented for India and China.”
“Turkey needs to increase its financial sources allocated for the research and development facilities,” she said, adding that the public officials should make green economy one of the top priority while working on new policies.
She also said in order to create a sustainable green economy, nearly 85 percent of the investment in transition to low carbon business should come from the private sector. “Additional external finance models should also be provided for the use of private companies for such transition to low carbon economy,” she said.
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