European Countries Estimate Eco-Employment Figures

BRUSSELS, Belgium, September 20, 2000 (ENS) - Reports from four European Union member countries providing data on the number of people employed in environment related industries have been published on the Internet. Portugal, France, The Netherlands and Sweden have each made an attempt to estimate the impact of environmentally related employment on the work force.

The results are not easily comparable because each country chose a different definition of eco-employment and calculated numbers using data from different sources.

A European Commission official said that a European Union wide survey of environment related employment should be complete by late 2001.

Portugal limited its focus to people working in commercial activities that contribute directly to environmental protection, primarily waste, water and wastewater management.

In 1997, analysis showed, 90,158 people were employed in such activities.

France's data looks at employment between 1996 and 1998, and has a wider scope, including workers involved in the manufacture of equipment or provision of services for the environmental sector.

Year by year rises in employment were recorded, with 1.32 percent of France's active work population employed in environment related jobs in 1998.


Car recycling in the Netherlands. Every car wreck generates some 700 kilograms (1,50 pounds) of metal, which is reused as a raw material in the steel industry. (Photo courtesy Car Recycling Systems B.V.)
A roughly similar scope was used by the Netherlands, which recorded 92,000 environment related jobs in 1997, or 1.3 percent of the country's employed work force. More than one-third of these jobs were in the public sector.

Sweden created a database of all businesses and organisations with environment related activities. Analysis of the data showed that almost 95,000 people were employed in environment related work in 1998, with their employers representing at least four percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product.

None of the studies seeks to demonstrate whether increased environmental regulation leads to a net increase in employment. Neither will the European Union study about to get underway. Due to begin in November, its aim will be to produce comparable data and to estimate the impact to the sector of European Union expansion to include Central and Eastern European countries.

The Commission published a communication on the environment and employment in November 1997 and an update on eco-industries was included in a document on the sector's export potential, published last year.


{Published in cooperation with ENDS Environment Daily, Europe's choice for environmental news. Environmental Data Services Ltd, London. Email:}