Sunday 10th December 2023 | 11:30-13:00 Gulf Standard Time 

Location: Expo City Dubai, SE Room 8 (COP28 venue, blue zone B6, building 82) or watch online

Hosts: Republic of Colombia, Climate Strategies, DIW Berlin 

As part of the official UNFCCC programme at COP28, this side event brought together policymakers, non-party actors, community leaders, and research experts, with an emphasis on perspectives from the Global South, indigenous communities, women and youth. Participants discussed negotiations on the UNFCCC Work Programme on Just Transitions with the aim of catalysing ambition and implementation.  


Amid significant uncertainty surrounding the upcoming draft decision on the new UNFCCC Work Programme on Just Transition (JTWP), we hope to seize this unique window of opportunity to foster an open and evidence-based conversation on how the JTWP can be operationalised to catalyse ambition and implementation.

The Just Transition can help maximise positive spillovers from climate action, navigate trade-offs, reduce inequality, and boost economic development. If applied economy-wide, the Just Transition can create conditions enabling an acceleration towards Paris Agreement goals.

Since Just Transitions are inherently embedded in local contexts, international negotiations must connect to the lived realities of people whose lives will be most impacted by climate policy. There is a need for UNFCCC spaces where diverse, local voices can bring forward their unique positions on the interconnections between transition and development.

By grounding discussions in a neutral knowledge base and connecting the lived realities of the global majority into the international discussion, we hope to contribute to bridging divergent perspectives regarding the domestic and international implementation of the Just Transition.

Keynote Speakers

Prof. Jim Skea was elected IPCC Chair for the Seventh Assessment cycle in July 2023. He was Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III for the 6th Assessment Cycle. From 2009 to 2023, Jim Skea was Professor of Sustainable Energy at Imperial College London. He has research interests in energy, climate change and technological innovation. He was Research Director of the UK Energy Research Centre 2004-12 and Director of the Policy Studies Institute 1998-2004. He was a member of the UK Committee on Climate Change from 2008 until 2018, and Chair of Scotland’s Just Transition Commission from 2018 to 2023. 

María Susana Muhamad González is a Colombian politician, environmentalist and political scientist of Palestinian descent; she belongs to the Colombia Humana party. Since August 7, 2022 she has held the position of Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development of Colombia. She was Secretary of Environment and Secretary General of the Mayor’s Office of Bogotá. In 2019 she was elected city councilor, a position she held until the first half of 2022. Muhamad has a degree in Political Science from the Universidad de los Andes and a master’s degree in Sustainable Development Management and Planning from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa.

She was a sustainable development consultant for Shell Global Solutions International in The Hague, The Netherlands. In 2021, Muhamad was elected as vice president of the national coordination board of the Colombia Humana party, after this political movement officially received its legal status. Muhamad is a nationally and internationally recognized environmentalist and her work focuses on developing actions to consolidate Colombia as a world power for life, through compliance with international agreements on climate change and biodiversity loss, the protection of environmental defenders and the fight against deforestation in the Amazon arc.  


Heiner von Luepke

Dr. Heiner von Lüpke is a Senior Researcher at the Climate Policy Department of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin). Prior to joining DIW Berlin, he spent 3 years at UN-FAO headquarters working on forest and climate policies, 7.5 years with GIZ as climate policy advisor to the Indonesian government for UNFCCC COP 13, and national climate policy and finance topics. Upon return to Germany, he spent 3 years advising the German government on international climate policy such as NDCs, coal finance phase out and strategies for climate and development support. He holds a B.Sc. and MSc in international forestry sciences, as well as Latin-American studies from Technical University of Dresden and a PhD in political sciences from Heidelberg University on the topic of cross-sectoral integration of climate policies in Mexico and Indonesia. His current research interests include interactions of international climate finance flows with national climate and development policies, as well as international climate cooperation in the context of climate clubs and alliances. 

Mrs. Angelina Ama Tutuah Mensah is a National Expert and Negotiator on Response Measures, Gender and Climate Change and Just Transition Work Programme to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and a member of The Katowice Committee of Experts on the Impacts of the implementation of response measures (KCI). 

A Fellow of NUFFIC and Langkawi Awards, she is currently a member of Ghana’s Gender Working Group that provides technical support and leads in the coordination of various activities and actions related to gender under the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) Support Programme in particular, the integration and mainstreaming of gender in the overall implementation of Ghana’s NDCs. 

Additionally, she coordinated the implementation of the EPA and the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Macroeconomic model called the Green Jobs Assessment Model (GJAM) to assess social and employment impacts on responses of the Nationally Determined Contributions in Ghana. 

Andrea Carmen, Yaqui Nation, became a staff member of the International Indian Treaty Council in 1983 and its Executive Director in 1992. Andrea was IITC’s team leader for work on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and in 1997 was one of two Indigenous representatives to formally address the UN General Assembly for the first time at the UN Earth Summit +5. In 2006, Andrea was selected as Rapporteur for the UN Expert Seminar on Indigenous Peoples’ Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources and their Relationship to Land”, the first Indigenous woman to serve as a Rapporteur for a UN Expert Seminar. Andrea has been an expert presenter at many UN bodies and seminars addressing a wide range of issues and in February 2019, she was selected to represent North America Indigenous Peoples on the new Facilitative Working Group for the development of the UNFCCC Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform for its first three years of operation, and in 2021 served as co-chair. She is currently a member of the IUCN Climate Crisis Commission. 

Leya Gerges Zgheib is a project coordinator at the climate change unit at the Ministry of Environment in Lebanon. She has been working on climate change topics (water, food security, climate change impacts on agriculture, etc.) since 2018. 

Her work focuses on the adaptation and transparency tracks of the climate change negotiations where she is a negotiator for the Lebanese government.  

Her work in the ministry revolves around developing a transparency framework and coordinating adaptation projects on a national level. On the negotiation front, Leya focuses on the different programs under the adaptation and transparency tracks. Additionally, to the negotiations, Leya is part of the team that ensures the Lebanese government’s compliance with the reporting provisions of the UNFCCC, as well as with the Paris Agreement including the development of both the 2015 and 2020 nationally determined contributions.  

Leya holds a bachelor’s degree in water resources from the American University of Technology, and master’s degree in environmental planning and management from the IHE Delft Institute in the Netherlands. 

Ulka Kelkar is Executive Director, Climate, World Resources Institute India. She is an economist with 24 years’ experience in climate change research, outreach and capacity building. She works on low-carbon development pathways, sub-national climate action, and just transition in small industry. 

She is a co-chair of the Think20 taskforce on clean energy and green transitions, an official engagement group of India’s G20 presidency. She chairs the fair share, equity, and justice working group of the UN-backed Race to Zero campaign. She has served on the Government of India’s long-term low emissions development strategy task group on transport, national committee for carbon neutral village awards, and science technology and innovation policy thematic group on energy, environment and climate change. 

Bhekumuzi Dean Bhebhe is a PhD Candidate at the University of Witwatersrand and a 2018 Mandela Rhodes Scholar with several years’ experience building and implementing campaign strategies across Africa. He is currently the Campaigns Lead at Power Shift Africa. 

Introduced and Moderated by:

  • Adriana Chavarría-Flores, Programme and Impact Manager, Climate Strategies 


Time (GST) Session  Speaker 
11:30 am Welcome and Introduction  Adriana Chavarría-Flores, Climate Strategies  
11:35 am Opening speech Ms. Susana Muhamad, Minister of Environment, Republic of Colombia
11:45 am Keynote speech: Just Transition – Theory and PracticeProf. Jim Skea, Chair of the IPCC 
11:55 am Just transition finance: Connecting international finance with local realities Dr. Heiner von Lüpke , Senior Researcher at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) 
12:05 pm Moderated discussion and Q&AProf. Jim Skea, IPCC 
Heiner von Lüpke, DIW Berlin 
TBC, Government of Colombia 
12:25 pm Panel discussion: International panel on connecting international negotiation to lived realities of the just transition Angelina Mensah, Ghana’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 
Andrea Carmen, International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) 
Leya Gerges Zgheib, Youth negotiator on behalf of Lebanon 
Ulka Kelkar, Chair of RacetoZero Working Group (Fairshare, Equity & Justice) & Director of Climate (WRI India) 
Dean Bhekumuzi Bhebhe, Campaigns Lead, Powershift Africa
12:40-1:00 pm Moderated Q&A  

This event will be livestreamed from COP28 (please note, participants joining online will not be able to interact during the Q&A portion of the event).