A key element of the seminar was the active participation of Villena mayor Patxi Esquembre and of Green city councilors, who shared their experiences after their first year in the city government. Villena is a city of 35.000 inhabitants, governed since the previous local elections (2011) by the Greens (5 local councilors) in coalition with the Social Democrats and the Villena Democratic Centre. This makes Villena one of the biggest cities in Spain governed by the Greens, which provided the seminar with the opportunity of learning about the experiences of a local government confronted with a rampant economic crisis, as well as a 8.5 million debt in its budget, inherited from the previous conservative governance.
The seminar focused on the employment opportunities that exist in various economic sectors, and that can be activated via a transition to a Green economy, such as construction and rehabilitation of buildings, public transport, chemical industry, agriculture, fishing and renewable energy. The International Labour Organisation estimates that the potential of Green job creation in Spain is of about 400.000 job places. However, the ILO estimate uses a restrictive definition of the term “Green job” that leaves out sustainable modes of transport for instance. A more inclusive definition would suggest that about 840.000 Green jobs can be created in Spain. Ana Belén and Joaquin Nieto offered many comparative examples of Green job creation in other EU countries, which allowed for a valuable comparison between different national realities.
The study coordinated by Manel Ferri for the Biodiversity Foundation (Fundación Biodiversidad) on the impact of sustainable public transport on job creation was also very well received. According to this study, the promotion of more energy efficient modes of transport would generate 130,000 new jobs in Spain by 2020, of which 60,000 could be provided by the promotion of cycling.
The seminar ended with a practical exercise in which the participants, divided in 5 working groups, put together a Green jobs plan for their city government. It was a valuable experiences, in which participants gained knowledge on the huge potential for Green job creation in Spain and in Europe.