Sustainable practices, jobs, and distressed communities in the Pacific Northwest: an overview
Niemi, Ernest G.
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Niemi, Ernest G.
This paper provides an overview of how the adoption of sustainable practices by businesses, communities and governments can affect employment and economic opportunities for distressed communities in the Pacific Northwest. “Sustainable practices” reduce waste in the use of energy, water and other raw materials (especially toxins), and curtail harmful environmental impacts. “Distressed communities” include places, such as low-income urban neighborhoods and rural towns, as well as groups, such as low-skill workers, that exhibit high levels of unemployment or poverty. Understanding the relationships among sustainable practices, jobs, and distressed communities is especially important because businesses, communities, and governmental agencies are accelerating their adoption of sustainable practices to lower costs for energy, materials, and waste clean-up, and to comply with legal obligations that require reduced environmental impacts. Furthermore, to compete effectively in many regional, national, and global markets, businesses increasingly must satisfy sustainability standards. In some industrial sectors, global demand for goods and services associated with sustainable practices is growing, and businesses in the Pacific Northwest are striving to become market leaders. In sum, the adoption of sustainable practices is growing and many forces exist that suggest that the trend will continue and grow. Workers and distressed communities need to know what to expect so they can prepare themselves to take advantage of new, sustainable jobs and be prepared when jobs associated with unsustainable practices are lost.