Green businesses: the right approach to building climate resilient local economies and livelihoods

Green Employment in Ghana

Ghana, like many other developing countries, is confronted with the triple threat of unemployment, irregular migration, and environmental degradation. In 2019, the country recorded an unemployment rate of 6.8% due to inadequate economic opportunities. Of those who are employed, 10% are considered under-employed.

Young people, especially females, remain the most vulnerable and are the worst affected by limited opportunities. Of those who are unemployed, nearly 7 in every 10 (68.8%) is within the youthful age group (15-34 years); similarly, about 57.2% of the unemployed are femalesApproximately 30.5% of youth are also Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET). As a consequence, Ghana is one of the countries in West Africa with the highest incidence of irregular migration to Europe according to the International Organization for Migration.

Simultaneously, Ghana is confronted with environmental degradation. Unsustainable livelihood activities such as illegal logging, burning, and illegal mining have resulted in vast deforestation and land degradation. Conservative estimates indicate that the cost of soil degradation as a percentage of real Gross Domestic Product is approximately 2.5 percent. Solid waste management, particularly pertaining to nondegradable materials such as polythene bags, electronic waste, and bottles, also remain a significant environmental issue.

Addressing these environmental challenges requires an integrated approach to problem-solving that focuses on sustainably harnessing opportunities within the green sector for purposes of job creation. It is estimated that targeted investments in Ghana’s green sector will produce better socio-economic and environmental outcomes and yield between 200,000 and 400,000 more jobs than a no-business-as-usual scenario. However, achieving this requires coordinated public-private investments in bankable business cases which demonstrate the socio-economic benefits of the Green Economy.

SNV, through the Boosting Green Employment and Enterprise Opportunities in Ghana (GrEEn) project, is contributing to addressing the issue of climate change by leveraging the drive and initiative of young people to take opportunities within the green sector.

The 4-year project with funding from the European Union Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF) for Africa is being co-implemented by SNV in Ghana and the UN Capital Development Fund in the Ashanti and Western regions.

GrEEn is aimed at supporting the creation of decent and sustainable jobs within the circular economy and providing financial inclusion to businesses to go green. Targeted at women, youth, returning migrants and Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs), GrEEn will use the Triple Bottom Line Approach, focusing on creating profit for people in fields that benefit the planet. GrEEn will promote a rapid shift from traditional to eco-inclusive climate resilient businesses, focusing on value chain gaps.

SNV is focusing on three major sub-sectors: renewable energy, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and climate-resilient agriculture. Through these, some of Ghana’s main environmental challenges, such as waste, (including Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) pollution), deforestation and soil erosion, will be addressed, and subsequently contribute to tackling climate change, promoting the growth of sustainable local economies and creating resilient livelihood for Ghana’s innovative and youthful population.

Written by: Alex Boahoma (SNV Ghana, Snr. Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, GrEEn Project) with inputs from Deborah Lomotey (SNV Ghana, Marketing and Communication Advisor, GrEEn project)

Find out more about the GrEEn project here.