The national unemployment rate jumped from 4.8% in 2014 to 16.4% in 2019 for people aged 15 years and above. High levels of formal unemployment reflect the economy’s structural weaknesses, which invariably promote poverty, inequality and social problems . Due to the high unemployment rates in the country and the increasing exposure of Zimbabwe to the challenges caused by climate change, there is a need for the country to focus on the creation of green jobs and the development of a green economy , .
Key policies and governance approach
Vision 2030 seeks to transform Zimbabwe to an upper middle-income economy by 2030. The National Development Strategy (NDS1), 2021-2025, supports Vision 2030, targeting an annual GDP growth rate of above 5% and the creation of at least 760,000 formal jobs over the five-year period. NDS1 aims to increase agriculture production, especially by smallholder farmers, which will increase Zimbabwe’s prosperity, food security and resilience against climate change. However, NDS1 also aims to increase electricity and coal supply to resurgent iron and steel sectors, both of which will lead to an upward trajectory in emissions under a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario .
The country has also developed several policies and strategies to reduce emissions and address climate vulnerabilities, including the National Climate Policy, Low Emission Development Strategy (LEDS), the Climate-Smart Agricultural Investment Plan (CASAIP) and the National Gender Policy .
The National Youth Policy (2013) ensures the active involvement of young people in national development, and, among other objectives, aims to foster skills, entrepreneurship, environmental education and active participation in environmental conservation among the youth of Zimbabwe .
Successes and remaining challenges
An inadequate legal and regulatory green economy framework means that enterprises, first of all, lack incentives to move towards sustainable operations and, secondly, lack awareness about opportunities in the green economy. As a result, many firms continue to source unsustainable inputs and continue to pollute water and air. Finally, a stagnant economy with very low levels of economic activity has led to virtual de-industrialization with many larger enterprises folding resulting in growth of informal SMEs as those laid off seek alternative means for a living. In summary, the labour market currently does not create enough formal employment and green jobs opportunities .
Initiatives and Development Plans
Using a green jobs assessment model developed by ILO, UNDP’s NDC Support Programme has been supporting Zimbabwe and Nigeria to quantify how climate and green economy policies would affect job creation, including for women and youth, income distribution, skills development and economic growth in their context. In Zimbabwe, of the dozen climate investments and policy scenarios modelled – covering energy, industrial processes, agriculture and forestry – investments in conservation agriculture created up to 30,000 jobs for every million US dollars invested. This number stands in high contrast to only 100 jobs created for each million invested in a hydro dam and 25 in commercial solar. These findings provide useful insights for policymakers in Zimbabwe .
The Green enterPRIZE project seeks to contribute to solving a series of inter-related development problems, such as high levels of youth employment, low levels of formal and growth-oriented entrepreneurship and unsustainable production processes of SMEs in Zimbabwe. The project seeks to provide support to green and growth oriented male and female owned small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and stimulate the market for green products and services through expansion of access to skills for green jobs and through the greening of existing enterprises. The ultimate goal is the creation of green and decent jobs for women and men, and especially young women and men, through sustainable enterprises .
- Investments in conservation agriculture could create up to 30,000 jobs for every million US dollars invested.
- In order to expand the available fiscal space, the government should aim for greater efficiency in the application of scarce resources by curbing wastages, duplication and leakages given the limited scope for additional borrowing and huge inflows of external aid.
- Relatedly, the government should address, as a matter of urgency, illicit financial flows from the country, especially from the extractive sector.
- Harmonisation of the socio-economic development activities with the national policies and legislations that are aiming to reduce carbon emissions.
 SustainZim (2017). The Need of Green Economies for Zimbabwe. [Online]. Available: http://sustainzim.org/need-green-economies-zimbabwe/.
 International Labour Organization (2021). Green enterPRIZE Innovation & Development in Zimbabwe. [Online]. Available: https://www.ilo.org/africa/countries-covered/zimbabwe/WCMS_623951/lang--en/index.htm.
 Sangji Lee, UNDP (2021). The case for a green economy. [Online]. Available: https://www.africa.undp.org/content/rba/en/home/blog/2021/the-case-for-a-green-economy.html.
 Zvobgo, L. and Tsoka, J., (2021). Deforestation rate and causes in Upper Manyame Sub-Catchment, Zimbabwe: Implications on achieving national climate change mitigation targets. Trees, Forests and People, 5, p.100090.