Jobs and society  |  Successes  |  19.05.2014

Brussels and Wallonia, Belgium: Creating Viable Economies and Local Jobs

Since 2009, Green ministers in two of Belgium’s three Regions, Brussels and Wallonia, have been pushing hard for the development of so-called ‘Employment- Environment’ Alliances in a bid to create green jobs. In Wallonia, these Alliances received a total budget of €879,000,000 under the ‘Marshall Plan 2.Green’, a framework programme adopted by the Walloon government to mainstream sustainable development across all its policies and reinvigorate Wallonia’s economy.

The idea behind the Alliances is that policies accompanying the green transition of economic sectors can create new jobs and maintain these sectors’ long-term viability. Special emphasis is placed on energy efficiency in buildings. Almost 50% of buildings in Wallonia were constructed before 1945, are very poorly insulated and cause very high energy consumption. Any jobs created as a result of the associated measures will necessarily be local and therefore cannot be lost through ‘delocalisation’.

The initiative has been developed in close cooperation with all stakeholders of the building sector with a view to transforming it into a sustainable sector. The partners are promoting low-energy consumption and environmental improvements to existing buildings, defining targets for renewable energy sources, identifying new skills and launching a renovation plan for the stock of public housing.

This means stimulating the demand for renovation and eco-construction. Concrete measures include training schemes, exchanges of good practice, the funding of schemes for individuals as well as small and medium-sized enterprises, research programmes and the provision of technical support. So far, 2,000 households and 5,500 public buildings have taken part in the initiative, which was only launched in 2011 in Brussels and 2012 in Wallonia. First figures on the number of jobs created are expected to be available soon.

Moreover, the Alliances in Brussels and Wallonia are tackling other domains, such as water, waste and food. One of the initiatives implemented by Green ministers in Brussels’ regional government is promoting sustainable canteens. So far 95 canteens serving a combined total of 80,000 meals a day in schools, private companies and public administrations have taken part. The public support provided includes a help desk for canteen managers, various self-assessment sustainability tools, training activities, sustainability audits and funding.

In the Brussels-Capital Region of Belgium, consumer demand for sustainable food has risen steadily in recent years. For example, between 2009 and 2010 demand for organic food increased by 20%. In Brussels, this sector, which currently employs 2,500 people, has the potential to create an additional 3,633 jobs in urban agriculture alone, in domains including farming, food distribution, waste management, information and communication, advising and consulting.

 This Green success was published in the brochure "Green Jobs: Successes and Opportunities for Europe" of the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament. 

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