Thursday, 25th April, 16:00 – 17:00 (British Standard Time)

Location: Online

This event explored how nationally determined contributions (NDCs) that incorporate strategies for Just Transitions can increase ambition and implementation, setting us on the right path towards common climate goals.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Just Transitions require intersectional approaches and robust capacity-building.
  2. The NDC Partnership has developed tools to assist countries in integrating Just Transitions into their NDCs.
  3. Social perspectives, including gender and human rights considerations, must be integrated into NDCs
  4. Just Transitions must be approached holistically, emphasising social dialogue over selective policymaking.
  5. Championing young voices is essential for fostering a just and sustainable future for the next generation.
  6. Increasing technical assistance and knowledge-exchange platforms is imperative for advancing global action towards Just Transitions and climate commitments.

Background:

The combined effect of all nationally determined contributions (NDCs), even if fully implemented, is still insufficient to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement. The round of NDCs being developed in 2024 may be the last window of opportunity to push for ambitious policies to keep 1.5°C or even 2°C targets within sight.

As countries prepare their new NDCs on the road to Belem in 2025, they must tackle the challenge of finding a middle ground between setting ambitious goals at the right pace and scale, while also ensuring that they are feasible to implement. This task unfolds amidst a backdrop of varied national priorities for sustainable development and ongoing efforts to alleviate poverty. Ensuring the inclusion of strategies for Just Transitions in the next round of NDCs is a means of enhancing the ambition and effectiveness of countries’ climate action.

Currently, only 31% of NDCs incorporate social dimensions and reference Just Transitions. However, research from our South to South project has shown that NDCs that account for Just Transitions are more likely to attract the international public and private investment required for successful implementation. Since NDCs set overarching climate objectives at the country level, by integrating Just Transitions into their NDCs countries signal to stakeholders, including vulnerable populations, that Just Transitions are a long-term national priority.

Policymakers have consistently highlighted the need for capacity building and support to tackle this endeavour at the UNFCCC, including through technical and institutional capacity. The Just Transition Work Programme could provide support with drafting feasible targets for Just Transitions, mainstreaming social justice and integrating considerations for Just Transitions across all implementation areas.

Against this backdrop, Climate Strategies convened a dynamic gathering of experts to explore the role that Just Transitions can play in increasing the ambition and effectiveness of national climate plans.

Event Summary

Catrina Godhino, a representative from the NewClimate Institute, introduced the concept of Just Transitions, highlighting the important role they can play in advocating for all those affected by the transition to net zero emissions. Central to Godhino’s contribution was an emphasis on the need for stakeholder engagement, social dialogue, and clear principles for climate action.

Sarah Hertel, NDC Enhancement Knowledge Specialist at the NDC Partnership, underscored her organisation’s commitment to supporting decisionmakers in their pursuit of climate commitments, particularly as countries develop new NDCs in the lead-up to 2025. This support includes translating national priorities into actionable policies, providing technical expertise and funding for NDC implementation, and crucially, aligning NDCs with long-term low-emission development strategies (LT-LEDS). 

Throughout the webinar, speakers also shared insights into the challenges and opportunities associated with implementing Just Transitions. 

Washington Zhakata, Director of the Climate Change Management Department at the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate (Zimbabwe), brought participants’ attention to transitions within the workforce and the complexities of phasing out fossil fuels in developing nations, where roughly half of electricity is derived from coal. Drawing from the perspective of Zimbabwe, where there are opportunities to integrate hydropower into the energy mix, Zhakata discussed several hurdles that must be considered throughout the transition. He noted that decisionmakers often do not recognise the need for a speedy shift away from fossil fuels, and outlined barriers to international finance, which can slow down the implementation of NDCs.   

Gabriel Kpaka, UNFCCC Focal Point and Deputy Director General in Sierra Leone highlighted opportunities to build alliances and expand climate portfolios through participation in global initiatives. Challenges in implementing Just Transitions, including barriers to international resources and the need to adapt the concept within a national concept, were also explored during Kpaka’s intervention.  

Maria Cristina Cifuentes Cifuentes from the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development in Colombia highlighted the cross-cutting nature of Just Transitions and outlined Colombia’s ambitious portfolio of 350 climate action initiatives spanning nature tourism, conservation, biodiversity, just energy transitions, and climate justice. She also stressed the importance of recognising the co-benefits of transitions while managing negative impacts, illustrating that Just Transitions can be leveraged to link climate action with broader goals for sustainable development.

Reactions from participants emphasised the need for robust stakeholder engagement and social dialogue when implementing Just Transitions into NDCs. 

Pointing to a study that found no clear evidence of youth engagement in Just Transition consultations, Anusha Seechurn from YOUNGO stressed the importance of formalising young peoples’ participation in the development of Just Transition strategies. Seechurn proposed the development of youth climate councils at the national level to ensure that this generation is included in participatory the processes surrounding NDCs. 

Patrick Rondeau, Union Director of the Environment and Just Transition Department at the Fédération des travailleurs et des travailleuses du Québec, discussed the need to look beyond traditional conceptions of equity to ensure that youth and indigenous perspectives are championed alongside considerations for gender. Rondeau also pointed towards the need for strong social dialogue to ensure that Just Transitions are not just framed as a tool for managing job losses, but are seen as a means of preventing unemployment at the source.

Viridiana González, a specialist in just energy transitions at the Iniciativa Climática de México, provided an insightful look into the gap between climate ambition and financial means. González stressed the importance of integrating budgetary items related to Just Transitions across government ministries, not solely within environmental departments. To achieve this, collaborative efforts at both national and subnational levels are necessary to develop the regulatory frameworks and budgetary items conducive to funding initiatives for Just Transitions. González also pointed towards the value of large-scale investments, given that they can reduce uncertainty through risk-sharing mechanisms.

Our Complete List of Speakers:

  • Catrina Godinho, NewClimate
  • Sarah Hertel, NDC Partnership
  • María Cristina Cifuentes, Ministry of Environment (Colombia)
  • Gabriel Kpaka, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (Sierra Leone)
  • Washington Zhakata, Ministry of Environment (Zimbabwe)
  • Anusha Seechurn, YOUNGO
  • Patrick Rondeau, Fédération des travailleurs et des travailleuses du Québec
  • Viridiana González, Iniciativa Climática de México

Facilitated by:

  • Adriana Chavarría Flores, Climate Strategies