Economic Development

In the New Green Economy, Philanthropy Must Take a Smarter Approach to Creating Good Jobs

August 2, 2023  • The Aspen Partnership for an Inclusive Economy

Building out the green economy is a massive undertaking, and that means lots of new jobs. That’s a good thing for workers, as long as the jobs being created offer opportunities to learn, advance, save, and build wealth. In a recent op-ed for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Maureen Conway and Amy Brown of the Economic Opportunities Program discuss the role that philanthropy can play in raising and promoting higher standards of job quality. 

What’s new: 

Together, two new pieces of federal legislation—the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act—could create 25 million jobs over the next few years. 

The uncomfortable truth:

“Pouring funds into programs that help people improve their skills to land good jobs doesn’t work when the economic ladder they are trying to climb is broken.” 

Key points:

  • Good-jobs principles are part of federal level infrastructure investments, but work must be done on the local level. 
  • Philanthropy and grant makers can support efforts that encourage government, labor unions, businesses, environmental advocates, and other key players to focus on job-quality goals.
  • Local populations should have a say about the types of jobs created, and what the green economy will look like.                         

What’s next:

“Creating a green economy that works for all will require both intentionality and accountability,” write Brown and Conway. “New metrics are needed to track not only progress toward equitable access to good jobs, but the redesign and improvement of jobs that don’t currently meet job-quality standards.”

Read the op-ed here.


Many countries don’t have the benefit of federal infrastructure legislation to fuel a green transition. Recent research conducted by the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) with support from the IKEA Foundation looks at the role of another powerhouse—small and growing businesses, or SBGs. 

In a guest article for NextBillion, ANDE’s Abigayle Davidson and Patrick Obonyo of the IKEA Foundation write about findings from research into green entrepreneurship in India and Kenya. Though these countries’ economies are very different in scale ($3.4 trillion vs. $113 billion), they each have a preponderance of small and medium-sized enterprises.

“ANDE’s research shows that if those countries could guide their small business sectors toward the green economy, either by supporting existing green SGBs or by encouraging green practices in traditional SGBs, they would awaken a giant and largely untapped economic potential totaling over US $120 billion in Kenya and up to US $3.46 trillion in India between now and 2030,” the pair write. “If these businesses—which are operating in sectors from renewable energy and water management to sustainable agriculture and ecotourism—can become a focal point in the global response to climate change, they will create countless jobs in the process.”

Read the whole article here.


A lot happens at Aspen Ideas Festival—more than the laws of space-time will allow one person to experience in a week. Accordingly, a great many of the sessions are recorded and uploaded for later viewing, and for keeping the ideas in circulation long after the speakers have left the stages.

“Driving the Economy Forward” was a dedicated program track at the 2023 Aspen Ideas Festival, and the topics we cover each week in the Slice were addressed in its dozens of conversations. A playlist of nine of these sessions—on topics from ESG to AI and hi-tech to downtown—is now available on the festival’s website.

If that binge-worthy viewing has you hungry for more, we’ll point you to two sessions we saw live in Aspen, each coming to you from the intersection of climate change and inclusive economy. (Are you starting to sense a theme in this week’s newsletter?) Click to watch sessions on Inclusive Climate Resilience and Youth in Action: A Conversation Centering Young Leaders’ Role in Protecting Climate.

Watch the AIF “Driving the Economy Forward” playlist here

This piece was originally published in APIE’s newsletter ‘The Weekly Slice’. Click here to subscribe