IntroductionIt takes the Earth almost 1.5 years to regenerate what we use in a year. The Covid-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the vulnerabilities associated with our traditional, linear consumption and production patterns and value chains. The concept of circular economy is therefore part and parcel of the shift towards low-carbon, resilient and resource efficient economies and societies. It concerns all economic sectors from building and construction to mobility, manufacturing up to agriculture and the services sector. It is at the same time both local and global in nature.
Moving towards a circular economic model yields major opportunities for job creation, decreasing the environmental impact of enterprises, enhancing resource efficiency and thereby rendering business operations more sustainable and competitive. The ILO estimates that global employment could grow by six million jobs by transitioning to a circular economy that includes such activities as recycling, repair, rent and re-manufacture - replacing the traditional economic model of “extracting, making, using and disposing”.
If well managed, the circular economy can also create jobs that are inclusive and of a better quality than those in a business-as-usual setting. Thus, “going around in circles” can get a completely new, thus positive meaning in a circular economy. It is a key element in the global transition to a more just and socially inclusive model.
Yet, such positive effects also come along with changes to existing business models and processes impacting on jobs and livelihoods. One cannot expect that a circular economic model automatically benefits all workers and the society equally. New occupations might be characterized by less stable employment relationships, potentially more harmful working conditions or exclude certain parts of society e.g. through extensive use of digital technology.
The economic models of many countries in the global south are particularly exposed, as they depend on largely linear economic models, material extraction, fossil fuels, or the extensive use of natural resources such as water and land.
To make the shift towards a circular economy just and beneficial for the majority of people, it therefore requires deliberate efforts and the shift to new mind sets by policy-makers, businesses and the broader public. To leave no one behind, particular focus must be put on vulnerable and often disadvantaged groups and skills development and training opportunities must be up to the task and widely accessible. It also requires a systematic approach that links global targets and markets with national and local policies, actions and businesses.
Drawing on the experience of the ILO and key partners this training course will provide participants with a structured approach to identify, understand and apply the main concepts, analytical tools and practical actions relevant to the employment and labour dimensions of the circular economy.
The course allows participants to learn from concrete experiences and case studies enabling them to understand, develop and shape enabling national/ sectoral strategies and approaches for the creation of decent employment and sustainable businesses in the shift towards a circular economy. It will allow participants to actively contribute and steer the discussion about green jobs and the circular economy in their respective local contexts.
Who attends this course?The course is particularly tailored to:
- Representatives of government ministries and agencies (e.g. Labour, Employment, Environment, Planning, Finance, TVET, Economy) as well as from subnational tiers of government;
- Representatives from employers’ and workers’ associations with a particular interest in the circular economy;
- Business development service providers and institutions supporting the greening of business processes and practices;
- National and international development agencies;
- Professionals from universities and civil society organizations
Course objectivesThe objective of this course is to provide participants with the knowledge to systemically apply measures to promote the creation of more and better jobs in the circular economy. They will acquire both the tools and the technical knowledge to be able to initiate and implement change processes at institutional, business and policy level.
At the end of the course, participants will be able to:
- Apply and disseminate the basic concepts underlying the circular economy model in conjunction with the related social, environmental and business aspects
- Identify key elements of enabling policy and regulatory frameworks such as fiscal measures and incentive schemes, certifications and extended producer responsibility, labour regulations and the business environment at large
- Identify and distinguish the roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders from government, the private sector, and employers’ and workers’ organizations to shape a conducive environment for the creation of decent jobs in a circular economy
- Analyse framework conditions to develop and implement policies and strategies in the area of:
- Skills development as well as technical education and vocational training for circular economy jobs, data collection and skills anticipation
- Green entrepreneurship, business models and private sector development
- Occupational safety and health in the circular economy
- Product certification and (fiscal) incentive schemes
- Network building and advocacy for job creation and business development in a circular economy
- Access to finance for green businesses
- Social and employment impacts as well as gender aspects of the circular economy.