Creating Green Jobs in Developing Countries

29th March 2021
Author: Kelbesa Megersa

This rapid literature review examines evidence on interventions have been used to create green jobs in developing countries. The ‘green jobs’ concept does not have a singular and universally accepted definition. Many development organisations have come up with their own definitions, however all definitions share both an “environmental” and “decent jobs” component. Green job growth has been mostly documented in developed countries and some rapidly growing middle-income countries. However, it is becoming clearer that a green economy can create more and better jobs in all parts of the world (including the poorer developing countries) – and that these jobs can be ‘decent’. There are, however, some difficulties. Some new (green) jobs created in the food, agriculture, and recycling sectors (particularly in developing countries) can hardly be considered ‘decent’ – i.e., due to their poor labour standards. In some cases, climate change is also having a negative impact on jobs. Donors have a crucial role to play in supporting and financing green jobs initiatives and ‘green employment’ across developing countries – given the inadequate investment in the sector, growing unemployment issues and their unique vulnerability to climate change. Nevertheless, the ‘green jobs’ sector – thus far – has only been able to receive limited financial assistance from donors. Lack of focus and funding by donors and development agencies not only stymies the creation of green jobs in developing countries, but it can also result in the loss of many existing jobs and livelihoods, particularly in agriculture, because of climate change. Furthermore, the funding for most green jobs programmes by donors usually tends to be project-based, which fails to be part of a larger strategy to promote sustainable development – thus, limiting its impact. However, it is worth noting that there is relatively limited donor programming on ‘green jobs’ – i.e., most donor funded jobs creation programmes are not explicitly ‘green’. Another poignant observation is the general lack of proper programme evaluation, especially independent evaluation, on donor interventions around ‘green jobs’ (which are usually small projects). As such, there is a lack of good evidence base.

Suggested Citation

Megersa, K. (2021). Creating Green Jobs in Developing Countries. K4D Helpdesk Report 987. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies. DOI: 10.19088/K4D.2021.054


29th March 2021


Continent: Global