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Riding towards green economy: Cycling and green jobs

A shift towards green economy is one of the key objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It was also one of the main themes addressed by the Eighth Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference, held in Batumi, Georgia, on 8–10 June 2016. The transport sector, which in all countries is one of the largest economic actors, can play a major role in promoting this transition, particularly in the urban environment, where 8 out of 10 Europeans are expected to live by 2030 (ST/ ESA/SER.A/352).

Meeting the accessibility needs of an ever-growing urban population presents European cities with important challenges related to emissions of air pollutants, CO2 emissions and noise, as well as land consumption and congestion, which in turn affect the quality of urban life and the attractiveness and competitiveness of cities. As part of the policy response to these issues, an increasing number of cities across the pan-European region are considering the promotion of cycling as a means to address the multiple and complex challenges. While the benefits of cycling for health and the environment have been clearly demonstrated, there is a need for further research on the economic implications of cycling promotion, particularly with respect to the potential for creating jobs. Filling this knowledge gap would be very important, since it would provide policymakers with new compelling arguments to advocate for and in support of an increased number of more effective cycling policies and interventions.

Working together under the framework of the Transport, Health and Environment Pan-European Programme partnership on jobs in green and healthy transport, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, the UN Environment and the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe set out to investigate this emerging area of research. This new study represents the first attempt to collect evidence from cities in the pan-European region on the number of cycling-related jobs, using a standardized approach, and highlights the role that green and healthy jobs can play.

Although further research will be required to address some methodological challenges, the initial results are very promising. They clearly indicate that the promotion of cycling could contribute to the creation of a significant number of jobs in a broad range of professions.

In addition to the benefits in terms of improved air quality, lower greenhouse gas emissions and reduced congestion, together with the opportunities for increased physical activity and the adoption of sustainable production and consumption patterns, incorporating green jobs and cycling-related initiatives into urban policies will move us closer towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

This report seeks to inspire policymakers to promote the change we want and to move one step closer to the vibrant, sustainable and healthy cities where we wish to live.

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Alexa Froger
28 June 2018

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