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Towards a Green Economy: Entrepreneurship opportunities in rural areas.
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Green Economy

What is the Green Economy?Click to read

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) defines a green economy as "one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcity, and achieving economic development and resource efficiency.

The main objective of the green economy is:

Produce environmentally friendly goods and services,

Promote the growth of the national product,

Increased innovation

 

 

Green Economy PrinciplesClick to read

The green economy analyses, measures and evaluates these three pillars.

Social Impact

Development impact

Economic transformation and green business growth

Low-carbon development

Energy Efficiency

Poverty eradication

Justice and good governance

Welfare

Green economy principles  focus on the use of resources that bring value to society, promoting well-being and resilience in the short and long term.

 

Benefits of Green EconomyClick to read

Poverty Reduction

Promoting Social Inclusion

Empowering human economic development

Maintenance and conservation of the ecological commons

Promoting economic welfare

Boosting economic development

Reduced environmental pollution

Optimises energy resources

Rationalisation of renewable resources

Optimises natural resources

Promoting social well-being

Green Economy Trends Click to read

Circular Economy

It is the most important trend in the green economy. It promotes the use of biodegradable materials in the production of consumer goods so that they can be returned to nature without harming the environment. With this model, the resources used are recycled to avoid generating waste.

Corporate Culture

This trend is based on bringing green ideas into the business context. Employees and target groups of companies with a green label identify with this trend of respect for the environment.

Collaborative Economy

The collaborative economy is the lending, leasing, buying or selling of products on the basis of specific needs and not for financial gain.

Renewable Energies

Renewable energies seek to boost clean and locally produced energy, reducing the costs of energy imports and transport.  

 

Tips to make your business sustainable and greenClick to read

Eliminate single-use products
Replace these products (e.g. plastic cups) with eco-friendly products.

Remote working
Depending on the type of work you could have more flexibility to work from home at least one day a week.

Environmentally friendly products
Use environmentally friendly products, e.g. replace cosmetic soaps in common areas with non-animal based soaps.

Local suppliers
Establishing good relationships with local suppliers may lead to good discounts that are similar to the low prices of large chain suppliers.  In this way you contribute to CO2 reduction.

Digitisation of documents
This not only improves the environmental impact but also improves the organisation and transfer of information.

Reuse and/or Recycle
Encourage sustainability, including inculcating such simple habits among workers as the use of separate containers.

How can I transform my business so that it has less impact on the environment? What criteria or strategies do I have to follow to become an environmentally friendly business? Here is a list of questions for you to think about. They will help you to think about how a business could become a more sustainable and green business. If you do not have a business you can make up one to answer these questions:

How can I reduce energy consumption in my business? How?

Do I have an influence on employees, stakeholders and customers? Can I carry out environmental awareness actions?

How can I reduce waste? How can I value waste?

How do we manage our water use, and can I think of ways to manage it more responsibly?

Can I use nearby suppliers? Which nearby suppliers can I work with?

Do I know the environmental footprint of my products?

Green Jobs

What are green jobs?Click to read

According to the International Labour Organisation, green jobs are decent jobs that contribute to preserving and restoring the environment either in traditional sectors such as manufacturing and construction or in new emerging sectors such as renewable energy and energy efficiency. The main objectives of green jobs are specified below:

Increasing the efficiency of energy and raw material consumption.

Limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

Minimise waste and pollution.

Protect and restore ecosystems.

Contribute to climate change adaptation.

Awareness of progress towards sustainability at all levels.

Decent jobs:

  • Productive work,
  • Decent income,
  • Security in the workplace,
  • Social protection for families,
  • Personal development and equal opportunities for all.

 

Green jobs action areas Click to read

Pollution Prevention and Control

This area includes jobs such as:

  • Head of the Waste Management Department.
  • Water laboratory analyst.

Impact assessment and management of the natural and rural environment

In this area you will find jobs such as:

  • Fauna management technician.
  • Environmental restoration technician.

Environmental management, sustainability and social responsibility

In this area you will find jobs such as:

  • Company sustainability manager.
  • Environmental auditor.

Environmental information and education

In this didactic area you will find jobs such as:

  • Environmental communicator
  • Environmental journalist.

Life cycle analysis

This area includes jobs such as:

  • Ecolabelling specialist.

Energy and climate change

In this area you will find jobs such as:

  • Energy manager.
  • Rewenable energy technician.

IT tools applied to environmental management

This area includes jobs such as:

  • Geographic information systems and remote sensing technician.
  • Consultant in geographic information systems.

The list of green jobs is very long, but the main promoters of green jobs are the companies themselves, which should move more firmly towards the creation of specific departments.

 

Green jobs in rural areasClick to read

Here are some examples of green jobs - how many of them did you know about?

  • Wastewater treatment and purification.
  • Waste management: Production of biofuels such as biodiesel or bioethanol.
  • Production of renewable energies.
  • Management of forest areas and protected natural spaces.
  • Environmental services for companies and entities (including services for the protection and control of noise pollution, atmospheric pollution and the recovery of contaminated soils).
  • Environmental education and information.
  • Organic production: Organic agriculture and livestock farming.
  • Environmental protection functions in industry and services.

Analyse the "Feltai" Case

"Feltai" is a project led by Inés Heredia that takes place in in northern Spain. This project gives value to sheep's wool by making textile products from it. They make slippers, cushion stuffing, clothes for designers, etc. When the products are no longer useful or wool is left unused, Inés and her team of women use it for composting.

Please reflect on the following questions:

  1. Do you think Feltai is an environmentally friendly company?
  2. What practices are carried out at Feltai that are consistent with the principles of the green economy?
  3. What strategies could be implemented to make Feltai have less impact on the environment?

 

Green Entrepreneurship

What is green entrepreneurship?Click to read

Green entrepreneurship is understood as those businesses whose goal is to achieve economic growth while taking into account the optimal and respectful use of natural resources and avoiding pollution.

The integration of the three axes of sustainable development guarantees the success of green entrepreneurship.

Areas of green entrepreneurship:

  • Alternative renewable energy sources.
  • Green transport.
  • Green consulting services.
  • Organic or recycled clothing.
  • Biodegradable packaging.
  • Green supermarkets.
  • Organic cosmetics.

These are just a few examples.

 

The Agroecological SectorClick to read

According to the OECD, agroecology is "the study of the relationship between agricultural crops and the environment".

  • Some of the principles underpinning agroecology are:
  • Nutrient recycling
  • Diversity
  • Synergies
  • Integration
  • Cultivation space as a value in itself.

Agroecology is a sector that currently has multiple opportunities for green jobs.

The agroecology sector can be understood as a social movement in that it develops actions that are part of a social process aimed at strengthening the social economy, but along the way creates positive synergies that promote human development.

Agroecology replaces the conventional view of agriculture with a more environmentally friendly view, which includes among others:

Optimal use of water

Preservation of biodiversity

Use of pesticides and green fertilisers

 

Agroecology Dimensions:

  • Decision-making in the agri-food system:
    • From the local to the global level
    • Challenging policies that hinder projects
  • Decision-making in the agri-food system:
    • From the local to the global level
    • Challenging policies that hinder local sustainability projects.
    • Policy advocacy.
  • Alliances with other social groups related to ecology from a global perspective.
  • Social and political movements.
 
  • Integral and systemic vision of the production process:
    • Redesign of the agro-ecosystem
  • Energy efficiency issues
  • Flows of other physical productive resources.
 

 

Steps to agroecological transition:

Level 1

Apply an efficient perspective to traditional agricultural practices (for example, reduce the consumption and use of expensive, scarce, or environmentally harmful external products).

Level 2

Apply alternative/ecological practices substituting more conventional ones.

Level 3

Redesign of the agroecosystem applying sustainable ecological processes and relationships.

Level 4

Social reorganization in the agroecosystem, change of values towards a more sustainable culture.

We should not confuse the term agroecology with organic farming. Agroecology's main objective is food productivity, being as respectful of nature as possible.

Agroecology is a sector that currently has multiple opportunities for green jobs. Some of the works are related to:

  • Recycling and reuse of waste
  • product preservation
  • Creation of agricultural and food products
  • Bio-construction and efficient rehabilitation
  • Renewable energy and energetic efficiency
  • Organic product stores
  • Specialized centers for the treatment of waste from clean points
  • Manufacture, sale or distribution of biodegradable packaging
  • environmental consulting
Sustainable Rural TourismClick to read

Rural tourism is associated with multiple concepts and tourist activities that take place in rural areas:

  • Ecotourism
  • agrotourism
  • nature tourism
  • Adventure trip
  • Green tourism
  • Activities such as:
    • Gastronomy
    • Horse riding
    • Hunt
    • Fishing
    • Another sports
    • Cultural and historical sights
    • Other

Some benefits that this tourism approach promotes are:

  • Perpetuates the local cultural heritage.
  • It confers authority on the local population to interpret and transfer the local culture.
  • Local Economic Growth.
  • Intercultural exchange.
  • Improves the living conditions of residents of rural areas.

Increases the employability of rural areas.

After the pandemic period caused by COVID-19, numerous studies find that there is an increase in the interest and predisposition of the traveller or tourist for rural landscapes and local culture.

Rural DigitizationClick to read

Rural digitization is positioned as a way for social inclusion, especially after the health and economic crises caused by COVID-19.

The digital transformation, carried out in an intelligent and respectful way with the locality implies: a more efficient use of resources, greater performance, production, quality and safety. This promotes an improvement in the benefits of companies, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, better farm management, etc.

In order for rural digitization to be inclusive, the following principles are proposed:

1. Promotion of basic conditions.
It refers to the digital skills and competencies of people in rural areas in addition to the necessary infrastructures. The digital transformation must entail an economic benefit for the population.

2. Digitization and sustainable development.
It must be aligned with the Sustainable Development objectives and respond to the needs of rural communities, taking into account the challenges of European society.

3. Adapt digitization based on contexts.
Digitization should not mean greater unemployment or concentration of farms. What may be useful in one rural context may not be so in another. Each rural area has different problems and digitization should save the decline, not promote it.

4. Avoid marginalization and polarization.
They must establish active digital inclusion policies. For this, all social and economic groups in rural areas must be involved, especially the most vulnerable groups.

5. Local digital ecosystems.
Integrate people and organizations that promote the digital transition at the local level (agents, infrastructure, digital applications, data and services).

6. Governance of digitization.
A deep knowledge of the local context is required to recognize business opportunities and threats and apply digital development opportunities adapted to rural realities.

7. Sustainable digitization policies.
New policies are needed for rural areas that understand the importance of digitization and how these directly affect the social and economic relations of the place.

 

Sustainable fashion or "slow fashion"Click to read

According to data collected by the UN, fashion is one of the sectors with the greatest environmental impact, producing up to 20% of wastewater globally and 10% of carbon emissions worldwide. That is why the "Slow Fashion" movement arises, which tries to reduce the environmental impact of production, reducing environmental pollution and the carbon footprint of products, as well as contributing to the creation of a more socially fair trade. For this, organic natural fibers are used, such as hemp, flax, bamboo and recycled fibers.

Some of the measures to meet the objective that sustainable fashion sets are:

  • Optimized use of natural resources.
  • Renewable energy sources.
  • Prioritize the repair, reuse and recycling of the product.
  • Use more sustainable materials.
  • Increase the longevity and quality of the product.
  • Guarantee access to information.
  • Reduce the use of water, energy and chemical products during the production process.
Green entrepreneurship management modelClick to read

The 5 Principles of Green Entrepreneurship:

To start transforming a company into a "green company", or undertake sustainably, four stages are identified:

1. Need or opportunity
Determine a need or opportunity. Even if we are talking about a company that is already in operation but intends to become a “green company”, this stage is the time to determine what problems the company presents in relation to the 5 green principles.

2. Design
In this stage, the strategies that will be followed to build a company that moves away from traditional practices that are unsustainable or harmful to the environment are designed based on the problem, need or opportunity identified in the previous stage based on the 5 green principles.

3. Execution
All the sections that make up the planning of the strategies towards sustainability must be defined. Among them you should take into account:

  • Strategy: the 5 green principles will be taken into account.
  • Activities: actions that will be carried out from the company.
  • Goal: percentage that measures the success of the company and its activities.
  • Indicator: measures the fulfillment of the objectives based on the desired time.
  • Time: estimation of the fulfillment of the objectives.
  • Responsible: responsible for the activities of the company.
  • Budget: monetary resources available to the company.

4. Evaluation and monitoring
Reports for evaluation and monitoring should be developed containing information about the implementation of the activity in all its stages. Some information that you can include are:

  • Shortcomings and weaknesses
  • Results obtained
  • new findings
  • decisions made

Based on the concepts studied in this module, we propose that you think of a business idea in your locality. We suggest that you reflect on the following questions as if you were planning to start a business based on the principles and ideas of green entrepreneurship.  

Are you thinking about starting a green business? These questions can help you to start thinking about your green business idea.

  • What is my idea for my green business?
  • What service am I going to offer?
  • Who is my service aimed at?
  • Why is it relevant to start a business in this sector?
  • How does my business respond to green economy principles?
  • What differentiates my business from other companies in the same sector?
  • Will I include any technological or business innovations?

Perhaps  this is the start of a good entrepreneurial idea!

Good practices

Trasdeza Natur (Galicia, España)Click to read

Trasdeza Natur is an organic garden located in Cortega Silleda (Galicia). Among the activities they carry out:

  • Recovery of local vegetables and fruits.
  • Transformation of food into dehydrated products.
  • Use of solar energy for the dehydration process.
  • Use of wastewater (vegetable pond, green filter).
  • The water is reused for irrigation.
  • Packaged with recyclable and compostable materials.

This pioneering project is directed by María José Tallón García. This project is a specialist in the technique of solar dehydration of fruits and vegetables harvested in its garden. This type of technique provides a new way of storage and guarantees a greater durability of the product without losing its nutritional properties.

Among the awards that this initiative has received are the award received by Tallón García from the TalentA 2021 program for rural entrepreneurship organized by Corteva Agrisciencie and the Federation of Rural Women's Associations in Spain (Fademur).

EcoAlpispa (Canary Islands, Spain)Click to read

Beekeeping as an entrepreneurial sector...

Natalia Díaz, a beekeeper living on the island of Tenerife (Spain), founded EcoAlpispa, a company dedicated to caring for bees not only as pollinators of her vegetable garden and producers of honey, but also to the manufacture of ecological packaging. The wax produced by the bees allows them to make packaging to preserve their food. In its aim to combat the production of plastics, it is launching the production of other materials such as organic cotton bags.

The eco-sustainable circle...

This enterprising woman has set herself the goal of no longer generating waste, which is why she uses renewable energy. Her farm is powered by wind energy and solar panels. Her vegetable garden is irrigated with natural water that passes through a purification system she created herself. In addition, this garden is pollinated by her bees, Natalia already has more than 200 hives.

Summing up

Summing upClick to read

Green Economy
The green economy is a model that generates a change in the interaction between economic progress and the sustainability of the natural environment. According to its principles, wealth is not only measured in productivity but also in natural assets.

Green Jobs
This model promotes growth, the creation of income and employment. This has a direct effect on reducing social inequality and poverty.

Green Entrepreneurship
Green entrepreneurship is an emerging concept whose importance is progressively growing in the EU context. There are more and more market niches oriented towards environmental sustainability.

 

Test Yourself
TestClick to start


Keywords:

Green economy, green entrepreneurship, green jobs, environmental sustainability


Objectives:

Objectives / Goals / Learning outcomes    By the end of this module you will be able to:
1.    Understand the concepts related to the green economy.
2.    Recognize green job opportunities in the rural context.
3.    Know different sectors of the green entrepreneurship in the rural context


Description:

The green economy is presented as an economic model consistent with the social, environmental and economic objectives facing our society today. Among its many benefits are social equity and efficient resource consumption, both of which are compatible with economic growth. Therefore, this module focuses on the concept of green economy, providing information about green jobs, green economy trends, green entrepreneurship and good practices of women entrepreneurs in rural areas committed to green economy principles.


Resources:

Green Growth: A New Model for Sustainable Development in Asia

https://ec.europa.eu/environment/green-growth/

https://www.tf.llu.lv/conference/proceedings2016/Papers/N231.pdf

The European Union's Green Deal, Explained


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