International climate finance providers should embrace the just transition concept to ensure impactful climate action in the Global South, according to a new report from the global research initiative South to South Just Transitions convened by Climate Strategies.

The report explores the role of a just transition to low-carbon, climate-resilient societies in nine countries across the Global South – Argentina, Bangladesh, Colombia, Indonesia, Ghana, Kenya, Laos, Malawi, and Vietnam. Local research partners in all nine countries have contributed to the findings.

The report Exploring Just Transition in the Global South finds:

  • Funders can play a critical role in creating dialogue about just transitions by helping to break down barriers.
  • There is a need to broaden climate finance to target support at helping affected regions and communities to manage the socio-economic impacts of transition.
  • Financing initiatives to close data gaps of national and local governments can improve just transition-aligned policy planning.

Joyashree Roy, Bangabandhu Chair Professor at the Asian Institute of Technology & IPCC author, said:

A carefully managed just transition in the Global South can lead to a net gain in decent jobs, energy access, environmental improvements, contribute to reductions in social inequities and poverty eradication. Climate finance has a critical role to play in support of a Just Transition when national governments set up institutions, adopt policies, guide investments, design social programs, early retirement benefits, training for reemployment, and plan for economic diversification.

In the report, the researchers summarise emerging insights into the issues that make a just transition complex in developing countries. While the situation of each country is different, there are common challenges and opportunities.

Much of the labour market in the Global South is informal. Therefore, a just transition must recognise the diversity of working conditions. The report highlights that more support and resources are needed to engage marginalised groups; this includes capacity building, access to information and creating open dialogue.

The socio-economic and political context of the countries presents challenges to successful climate policies. The countries face high levels of energy poverty, limited access to electricity, and rising energy consumption. A just transition is an opportunity for developing countries to leapfrog fossil fuels and replace coal with renewables which can increase energy sovereignty.

The report finds that current climate finance is limited in these nations and needs to expand beyond the aims of reducing emissions or adapting to the dangers posed by climate change.

The researchers recommend that funding should support complementary programmes that help the socio-economic transition process. These include re-skilling programmes for workers affected by the transition to zero-carbon solutions and public policy reform to reinforce social safety nets for people who are unable to find re-employment.

In July 2022, the ground-breaking research initiative will launch six new country reports with additional recommendations for policymakers in developing countries.