As Tunisia’s population grows, the country is faced with an increasing number of sustainability issues, including a lack of renewable energy sources, limited fresh water resources, desertification and urban sprawl. Decoupling economic growth from unsustainable practices and generating meaningful employment, therefore, must be a clear priority. A transition towards a green economy provides an opportunity to achieve both.
A green economy is characterized by low carbon emissions, resource efficiency and social inclusiveness. A green economy stimulates growth and employment through increased public and private investments in renewable energy, which, for example, enhances resource efficiency and prevents environmental degradation.
Renewable energy is a strategic policy choice that would contribute to a competitive, innovative and sustainable economy, yielding significant social and environmental benefits. Setting clear and ambitious targets for renewable energy, as well as a proactive regulatory and incentive framework aimed at boosting clean technology investments and adoption, can give rise to new industries, open new market possibilities, stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship, and generate employment.
Employment in the renewable energy sector in Tunisia can involve jobs in R&D, manufacturing, commercialization, and installation and maintenance. The sector would create a number of high-tech and skilled employment opportunities, which can be bolstered through appropriate technology transfer and capacity building programmes.
The issue is whether employment in the renewable energy sector can be generated fast enough to absorb the alarmingly high current unemployment and underemployment rate, especially in a sector that usually requires a medium to long-term vision. That said, more immediate jobs can be created within energy efficiency, transportation, resource efficiency, agriculture and forests.
Opportunities for job creation abound within a green economy that is based on protecting and investing in our natural resources across Tunisia’s most competitive sectors, namely agriculture, fisheries, forestry and energy. Additionally, an integrated approach to energy and resource efficiency is also necessary to include in manufacturing, waste management, infrastructure, transport, tourism and cities.
A complete re-tooling of our current socioeconomic paradigm to one based on community and environmental well‐being provides one of the best ways to overcome our most pressing challenges.