Green Jobs Have Great Potential but are Not Yet Widespread in Russia

Green Jobs Have Great Potential but are Not Yet Widespread in Russia

Estimating the number of “green” jobs created in Russia is difficult, in part due to the fact that such a concept as a “green” workplace is not yet widespread in Russia. The Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Russian Federation makes no mention of “green” jobs anywhere in its open sources.  Methodological approaches to assessing the number of such jobs have not yet been fully formed.

Professor Ivan Potravny of Moscow’s prestigious Plekhanov Russian University of Economics told Climate Scorecard that there are two main spheres in which we can find “green” jobs in Russia:

  • Using natural resources rationally and preserving natural resources
  • Minimizing pressure on the environment (i.e. using new technologies in construction to make buildings more energy efficient)

Potravny, however, says that the problem with assessing the number of green jobs in Russia, where they are located, how many people are employed, what the wages are, etc. is that there are many jobs and professions in Russia that could technically be considered “green” because they contribute to sustainable development (even street sweepers could fall into this category because they clean the environment) but they are not considered as such. There are simply no definitions as of yet of what a “green” job is.  Even if you produce renewable energy in Russia, that is considered as working in energy production as opposed to a “green” job. Moreover, Potravny believes that virtually anyone who lives and works in the Arctic regions of Russia is in one way or another employed in a “green” sphere because they all live off the environment (be it tourism, solar farms, reindeer herding, etc.) and therefore it’s in their interest to take care of it. Yet this does not fall under the category of “green” jobs, a category that does not yet even exist in Russia.

However, we are slowly starting to see progress in this direction. In 2013, the Russian government issued a Declaration on the implementation of “green” economy principles.  These include:

  • Increased investment in environmental technology;
  • Improving waste processing methods;
  • Supporting the environmental activity of businesses in the industries of the new technological order;
  • Creation of mechanisms for introducing payments for ecosystem services;
  • Creation of conditions for attracting capital to the market of environmental goods and services;
  • Creation of additional “green” jobs;
  • Formation of new innovative sectors of the economy with the potential for GDP growth.

Indeed, for Russia adding the environmental component to the development of the labor market will be a solution to the problems of unemployment and changes in the structure of employment, depletion of natural resources, pollution and degradation of ecosystems. The employment policy of the population, based on the observance of the principles of rational use of resources, can ensure not only stabilization in the labor market, but also reduce natural risks.

In Russia, green building projects are being implemented (Hypercube at Skolkovo IC, the Big Ice Palace in Sochi, company offices, etc.), training programs are being developed to improve the skills of specialists in the field of energy saving and resource efficiency in building construction, according to a paper by E. Voikina and I. Potravny[1]. The economists also note that in Russia, jobs that can be considered “green” are being predominantly created in the spheres of rational use of natural resources, energy saving, elimination of accumulated environmental damage and waste processing.

In accordance with the Action Plan of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation, by 2019 it was planned to create 25,000 new jobs in the field of natural resource protection. Priority economic activities in terms of introducing green jobs include green energy based on the use of renewable energy sources; environmentally friendly modes of transport; green industry associated with the production of equipment and devices in the field of resource conservation and environmental protection; green building; green agriculture (organic farming); waste recycling; eco-tourism; etc.

Taking the environmental component in the development of the labor market into account can become a solution to the problems of unemployment and changes in the structure of employment in Russia, including during the process of introducing various types of eco-innovations. According to Voykina and Potravniy, these are the expected consequences of the impact of climate change on the employment sector in the context of economic sectors in the Russian Federation:

Branch of the economy Expected environmental changes that may affect the state of the industry New processes in the field of employment in the economic sector taking into account changes in the environment
Hydropower Increase in air humidity and frequency of fog; change in water inflow to reservoirs The need to increase the number of specialists in the field of hydrometeorology
Agriculture Decrease in the frequency of winters with temperatures dangerous for agricultural crops; increased frequency of droughts, loss of productivity Climate change will lead to increased crop yields; labor force will be required to carry out irrigation activities
Water consumption and water use Increase in water supply per capita (Siberia, Far East); growing scarcity of water resources in densely populated regions of Russia The growing need for specialists to address issues of water supply regulation to the population
Construction Flooding / flooding of settlements; an increase in extreme weather events will lead to a decrease in the durability of buildings, to an increase in the cost of adapting to climate change Growing demand for specialists who know green building standards, as well as for specialists taking into account knowledge of new building standards and climate change
Transport Rising costs for the design and construction of transport facilities, taking into account hazardous natural phenomena Growing demand for specialists with knowledge of green transport construction standards, as well as transport construction taking into account climate change

The development of renewable energy was predicted to lead to the creation of 200,000 new jobs in Russia by 2020 (Kopylov, 2011). The development of the industry for the processing and disposal of production and consumption waste (2018) will significantly reduce the burden on the environment and provide new jobs. More than 100 billion tons of various waste has accumulated in Russia, while only 30% of production waste is utilized and only 2% of consumption waste goes to secondary raw materials. The creation of high-tech waste processing enterprises in Russia would reduce the burden on the environment and provide the population with new jobs.

The development of organic agriculture for Russia is an opportunity to reduce import dependence, provide employment for the rural population and preserve the environment. The presence of huge reserves of fresh water, 38% of the world’s reserves of very fertile black soils (“chernozem”) and 40% of lands untouched by technogenic activities could allow Russia to produce 15% to 20% of the world’s organic products all while creating numerous jobs. In Russia, there is potential for the growth of an environment-oriented labor market, including in the field of environmental goods and services (Yashalova, 2012), however, at present, green economic activities in Russia are still poorly developed.

Potravny believes that future growth in “green” jobs will be aimed at alleviating pressures on the environment and focus on things like circular economy and renewable energy, as well as add a climate-specific focus to traditional professions such as architects.

Currently, there is no clear plan or any known policies to promote green jobs in Russia. According to Angelina Davydova[2], one of Russia’s most prominent environmental journalists, there is a lack of funds for “green finance” in Russia, which in turn might impede the growth of green jobs. International funds and donors are all but inaccessible due to sanctions, institutions have yet to create green financial packages, a significant proportion of businesses are debt-ridden and credit rates are incredibly high. Capital is valuable in Russia and any green investments involve long repayment periods.

At the end of 2019, the World Bank and the Bank of Russia’s Expert Council on the Long-Term Investment Market published their recommendations for developing the Russian market for green finance. In order for industry to become more eco-friendly, companies need long-term loans for green projects with reasonable interest rates and long repayment periods, but a strategic, systematic vision of green development in Russia is no less vital. Currently, this vision has still not been thoughtfully articulated and this presents a barrier for “greening” the Russian economy, which in turn would lead to a growth in green jobs.

For the development of green employment in Russia, it is necessary to develop and implement a comprehensive action plan, including the identification of indicators that characterize such a development and the identification of priority economic activities for the creation of green jobs, Voykina and Potravniy believe. According to their calculations, an increase in environmental investment in fixed assets by 1% will help reduce the unemployment rate by 0.68%. Various sources can be used to stimulate projects to create green jobs, including bank funds and mechanisms of public-private partnership. Thus, investing in energy and resource-saving production technologies is a source of not only restoration and preservation of the environment, but also the creation of new decent jobs and the modernization of obsolete ones, which is necessary to increase employment in the labor market.

Potravny concludes that the Russian government needs to first and foremost get serious about its ecological policies (through tougher economic and legal policies, for example), which would automatically lead to the creation of more “green” jobs. Creating a classification of what a “green” job is would also be vital. Finally, policies that would encourage environmental entrepreneurship (e.g. cheap loans for setting up bicycle rentals or services for better home insulations), as well as changing existing models of production and consumption, are needed to ensure that being “green” becomes more lucrative for businesses.

Activity Rating: ** Standing Still

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Alert Message: to Anton Olegovich Kotyakov

Dear Anton Olegovich,

As the rest of the developed world recognizes the dangers that climate change poses and the benefits that adding more and more green jobs brings, it is time that Russia formulates a clear plan for creating the necessary conditions in its labor market to create green jobs. Firstly, it is essential to formulate a definition of what green jobs entail in the Russian context and identify the industries which can be at the forefront of leading the creation of such jobs. Secondly, it is necessary to create programs that will allow workers to improve and gain new skills in order to produce a highly skilled work force that is ready to tackle the challenges that climate change presents and also to make use of the opportunities that green technologies provide. The development of the labor market in a “greener” direction will be a solution to the problems of unemployment and changes in the structure of employment, depletion of natural resources, pollution and degradation of ecosystems.


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[1] Voikina, E.A. and Potravny, I.M. 2018. “Green” employment and the labour market in the formation of an environmentally friendly economy. St. Petersburg University Journal of Economic Studies, vol. 34, issue 2, pp. 00-00.

[2] Angelina Davydova. Russia’s green economy. 2018.

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Russia Country Manager Maria Stambler

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