Raymond Van Ermen
Environmental non-government organisations (NGOs) have played a key role in developing awareness of environmental problems in both public and private sectors. This has led directly to the development of an employment market in the environment and sustainable development sector, notwithstanding the fact that NGOs are an employment sector themselves.
What follows is a brief account of some of the NGOs’ perspectives at the European level concerning environmental employment.
The European Environment Bureau (EEB), a federation of environmental NGOs, represents NGOs on several EU advisory bodies. For instance, an EEB representative chairs the European Eco-Label Forum which is submitting comments to the Commission on the eco-labelling of products. Similarly, the EEB is commenting on the EC Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) regulations. The EEB is also participating in the so-called Article 19 experts, meetings, which are meetings of representatives of all Member States and interested sectors. Thus we have a good picture of the evolution of environmental policies and developments in the field and in relation to the implications for employment in the environmental sector.
First, there is the question of quality. With regard to the implementation of the EMAS regulation a problem arises in the quality of the training which needs to be guaranteed throughout the EU. Such quality certification should also include the quality of teaching. The EMAS system is devised so that eventually it will be possible to qualify as an EMAS verifier in one country and work in another.
The second issue is a fair share. Certain markets for environmental contracts, such as the one for eco-audits, may give a number of companies the desire to monopolise the European market. It is not surprising that environmental NGOs are not in favour of this. High quality performance must be ensured and therefore it is important that new forms of partnership should be developed between professionals from several countries. For instance, regarding the EMAS