Just Transition is a vison-led set of principles, processes and practices that aim to create a regenerative economy by approaching production and consumption cycles holistically and waste-free. It was developed by the trade union movement with the purpose of enhancing a wide range of social interventions to secure workers’ rights in the shift to sustainable production, mainly by combating climate change and protecting biodiversity.
Practical actions to help workers deal with the changes brought by the transition to a more sustainable economy include complying with demands for fairness for coal workers in coal-dependent developing countries who lack employment opportunities beyond coal; fairness for those populations affected by the air pollution and other serious consequences of climate change; fairness for those having to leave their homes because of the rising of sea levels, a concerning process which is causing a gradual disappearance of islands and coastal regions.
It has been endorsed by governments in different countries and by the International Labour Organization (ILO) that has made Just Transition an established element of its sustainable development agenda since 2008, while the Paris Climate Agreement also contains references to a Just Transition, which implies the commitment of governments to ensure that workers are safeguarded in the transformation through the creation of decent work opportunities.
Despite the different needs of each country, the Just Transition policies are expected to be applied everywhere. These include:
- Investments in low-emission jobs and technologies in the respect of human rights and Decent Work principles.
- Dialogue and democratic consultation of governments with social partners (trade unions and employers) and other stakeholders (i.e. communities affected by transitions).
- Ensuring that new jobs in the emerging green industries are decent.
- Social protection and active labour market policies.
- Local economic diversification plans that provide stability in the transition.
- Skills development policies.
- “Guidelines for a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all”- ILO, 2015 (https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—ed_emp/—emp_ent/documents/publication/wcms_432859.pdf