Green Skills: 12 Keys to Sustainable Development
The future is green – governments know it, businesses know it, and individuals know it. Progress may be slow, but as countries around the world work towards the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it’s clear that there will be a large-scale change in the way we conduct business.
In fact, it’s estimated that 100 million jobs will be created through the transition to renewable energy and circular economy models. This could mean some jobs become obsolete while others shift to include new responsibilities.
So how can we prepare ourselves? By investing in future skills. Whether you want to enter a new industry or future-proof your current career, arming yourself with green skills has numerous benefits.
But what skills should you prioritize and how can you apply them? This article will explore 12 crucial competencies that will aid sustainable development and set you up for the future.
What Are Green Skills?
According to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, green skills are the values, attitudes, abilities, and knowledge needed to create and maintain a sustainable society.
A green transition is already underway as countries shift to low-carbon and net-zero economies. This will require companies to change the way they operate, from creating new products and processes to developing sustainable business models and creating new green jobs.
For employees to perform these green jobs effectively, they need to acquire green skills.
No one knows what the future holds. Perhaps in 20 years, businesses will be able to buy domain names like .BCorp that set them apart as a certified corporation. Or maybe transport fleets will operate on oil that’s a by-product of the food industry. While there is no way of knowing what will happen, there is a way of preparing yourself for the inevitable.
12 Green Skills for Sustainable Development
During the global pandemic, many people had to shift to new ways of working – for example, navigating remote PC access from RealVNC and adopting new collaborative tools like Basecamp to stay connected. So chances are employees are already in an adaptive mindset. Equipping them with green skills will further enhance their readiness.
But with so many changes taking place, how do you know which will be most in-demand or relevant to your industry and role? Let’s explore 12 crucial competencies that will successfully set you up for the green transition.
1. Environmental Science
Having a grasp of how the natural world operates and human activities affect it are critical. As such, tomorrow’s green economy will largely depend on people with science skills to drive innovation.
Among the more critical roles will be biochemists, hydrologists, biologists, and environmental scientists. These people will be instrumental in sustainably managing and protecting natural resources.
Their proficiencies will also be valuable in analyzing the impact of processes like sewage services and renewable energy on everything from soil health to human health.
2. Green Planning and Architecture
The global population is predicted to grow by nearly 2 billion people in the next 30 years, meaning there could be 9.7 billion people on the planet by 2050. Needless to say, rapid urbanization isn’t slowing down any time soon. On top of this, the consumption of natural resources will increase exponentially.
Sustainable development puts nature at the core of infrastructure services. This means knowing about everything from eco-friendly building practices and materials, waste management, and water conservation to handling legacy issues and retrofitting current buildings.
Planners and architects will also need to understand how to build green environments where people can live in harmony with nature, minimize resource consumption, promote biodiversity, and enhance people’s quality of life overall.
3. Digital Tools and Technologies
Technology may be a culprit of climate change and waste. But it’s also a valuable solution. Whether or not you work in IT, relevant green skills could enable you to acquire technical knowledge to use and implement green technologies more efficiently, including paperless document management software.
As part of the green transition, many businesses will aim to make their systems more energy efficient. This could mean increasing cloud computing, replacing on-site storage, using remote access more frequently, and installing more energy-efficient hardware.
For example, cloud computing solutions can avoid the heavy use of electricity. Another solution is Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), a technology that allows voice communication over an IP network like the internet.
What does a VoIP phone look like? A hardware-based VoIP phone looks just like a traditional phone but with additional features like call transfer. However, a software-based VoIP phone is used through a computer or mobile, which is where digital know-how is valuable.
Agriculture is a key driver of climate change, with livestock waste and emissions and fertilizer use all significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. It also faces numerous challenges as a result, from water scarcity to soil degradation.
But the industry has a crucial role to play in reducing emissions and increasing biodiversity through nature-friendly farming. Sustainable agricultural practices will be crucial if we’re to feed the billions of people on the planet.
To achieve this, people must develop workable solutions for raising livestock and growing crops. Essential knowledge will help farmers and producers more successfully implement organic methods, save water, reduce emissions, and naturally increase crop yields.
Some of these skills will cross sectors too. For example, people with digital skills can support the industry with sustainable harvesting technologies, while those proficient in environmental science can promote the adoption of nature-friendly farming practices.
5. Environmental Justice
Developing countries, women, and youth – these are just some of the societal groups that are disproportionately affected by climate change. But people are speaking up: from Montana to Sweden, young climate activists around the world are suing governments for climate inaction.
As a result, those in the legal sector could find themselves operating in the fields of both environmental rights and human rights in the very near future.
They’ll achieve social, historical, and legal awareness that will ensure the world doesn’t make the mistakes of years gone by – specifically poor social and environmental health and social and racial injustice.
6. Supply Chain Management
As organizations shift to greener models, sustainability will become increasingly relevant to each stage of a product’s lifecycle. That means everything from sourcing materials, manufacturing products, selecting packaging, transportation goods, and disposing of products will receive a sustainability makeover. As such, people with crucial know-how of practices like ethical production, responsible sourcing, and sustainable shipping will be in high demand.
7. Eco-Friendly Transportation
Changing how we travel can drastically reduce emissions. Many companies and individuals are already transitioning to greener forms of transport, such as electric vehicles. But relevant skills will be needed if we’re to roll out sustainable transportation on a wider scale. These include developing innovative ways to encourage people to switch to low-emission transportation and improving infrastructure.
8. Renewable Energy
The production of electricity accounted for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions in 2021. But using more sustainable energy sources offers numerous advantages. For example, both homes and businesses that use solar energy can protect themselves from spikes in gas prices.
Many countries and industries are slowly transitioning to renewable energy. Therefore, skills such as energy generation, installation, and maintenance are extremely useful. These could be in hydro, solar, wind, or geothermal power.
9. Critical Thinking
Let’s not forget that soft skills will always be relevant – and critical thinking is essential for sustainable development. This means not just accepting everything as if it’s the best or only way to do something.
Achieving sustainable goals requires a willingness to challenge accepted beliefs and practices while working towards ideal, practical solutions.
10. Energy Efficiency
Today, minimizing energy usage and creating more energy efficient practices has become a target for many businesses. Essential future know-how may include anything from installing a cloud call center solution that helps businesses maximize energy efficiency to performing energy audits and interpreting results.
This encompasses analyzing what goes on inside an organization, including reducing consumption and recycling. But it also includes educating staff, organizing processes within the office more effectively, and choosing sustainable supplies and suppliers.
11. Waste Management
A growing population means more waste, an issue that’s already plaguing countries around the world. Reducing the effects that waste has on the environment should be a priority for every organization. So it’s no surprise that waste management is an in-demand skill.
This demands a high level of knowledge in how to reuse, recycle, compose, and properly dispose of resources and materials. It also calls for knowing how to minimize waste production in the first place to create a more circular economy.
12. Water Conservation
Water may be a finite resource, but it’s also met with greater and greater demand. And the concern over water scarcity is a very real and urgent one. With this in mind, water conservation plays a crucial role in sustainable development.
Water resource management requires knowing how to manage and conserve water. This includes techniques for irrigation efficiency, water pollution control, and water harvesting. A highly applicable skill, it’s relevant to numerous industries, including production, building, and agriculture.
Looking Ahead to a Greener Tomorrow
As the world shifts towards a greener economy, the workforce must adapt with it. That means today’s employees must become tomorrow’s leaders. They must learn skills that support sustainable development while helping companies reach their net-zero goals.
Education plays a crucial role in upskilling individuals to prepare them for the rest of their career and enable businesses to achieve their targets.
Collaboration and strategic partnerships will also be essential. No single entity can tackle sustainable development; governments, businesses, and communities must come together. By combining our expertise, we can limit the impact of climate change and look to a more sustainable future.