There is no one size fits all framework for a just transition.
This multi-year project brings together research institutions across nine countries in the Global South, in a novel approach to developing alternative, and context-specific just transition strategies.
Year: 2021 Current Project
This project is led by Climate Strategies, in partnership with Dala Institute (Indonesia), Fedesarollo (Colombia), the University of Ghana, the University of Liberal Arts (Bangladesh), EfD Kenya, CEPA (Malawi), Hanoi University of Science and Technology (Vietnam), National University of Laos and Sociedad y Naturaleza (Argentina).
Why do we need just transition research in the Global South?
Just transitions (JT) foreground the importance of managing the distributive costs and benefits of transitioning to a low-carbon and resilient society through a participatory process. From its inclusion in the Paris Agreement preamble (2015) to the more recent Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) announcements, just transitions have become an integral part of climate change mitigation, adaptation, and financing dialogues.
While experts and policymakers have historically applied this concept to the energy sector in the Global North, recent years have seen efforts to expand the JT concept to other sectors in a variety of contexts. Since 2019, Climate Strategies has boosted efforts to tailor just transition principles for diverse contexts, integrate key findings into NDCs, and accelerate socially-just climate action to achieve Paris Agreement targets. You can find more details on our past projects under the ‘Background’ tab.
What is South to South Just Transitions (S2S)?
Research to Boost Just Transitions and Inclusive Climate Action in the Global South
The initiative aims is to deepen our understanding of what a just transition means in diverse contexts, develop guidance to inform dialogue and guide planning, and create a lasting network of researchers committed to the topic. To achieve these goals, S2S facilitates a south-to-south knowledge sharing network of nine in-country research partners, based in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Working with in-country partners creates an opportunity to generate contextually specific knowledge while also strengthening and supporting research capacity.
In-country teams have explored how the just transition concept is embedded in current and newly developed climate policies, identified sectors where just transition principles are most critical, and prepared evidence-based recommendations for decision-makers to enact just transitions. Our country reports and toolkits, available in English and local languages, are available under the ‘Publications’ tab.
Although each of our country-partners have explored different contexts, the consortium has identified several cross-cutting issues. These are highlighted in our flagship report, ‘Exploring Just Transitions in the Global South’ and summarized below.
Our Key Takeaways
At both the national and international levels, we see more conversations about just transitions. This is encouraging and points to a growing interest in restorative and procedural justice while simultaneously addressing the socioeconomic effects of a shift to a low-carbon society. Many Global South nations have included just transition frameworks in their NDCs and related policies, either explicitly or implicitly.
Planning and implementing just transitions, however, continues to be difficult in some contexts in the Global South. These include issues such as a lack of data access for planning, limited funding for social engagement and dialogue, the lack of a central body to coordinate just transitions across sectors, the need for more institutional knowledge and capacity on the subject, and limited resources for just transitions outside the energy sector.
Some policies already have an adverse effect on human rights, worsening inequalities, and excluding those who are most vulnerable. For example, if just transitions are not implemented, there is a risk that gender inequalities may be replicated in green energy sectors in Colombia. Similarly, in Kenya, plans to transition to a circular economy threaten the livelihood of informal urban waste workers if they are not included in key dialogues. In Laos, just transitions are key to ensuring indigenous forest communities do not lose access to sites of cultural and economic importance restricted. In Malawi and Argentina, policies aimed at improving agricultural efficiency and improve resilience could impact smallholder farmers if they needs are not considered in the transition.
Even if these are context-specific issues, the international community can take steps to increase ambitions on socioeconomic justice in climate action more broadly. These include providing more funding for social dialogue, supporting efforts to create centralized commissions for just transitions, increasing capacity to plan just transitions, and facilitating dialogues across ministries and regions.
Empowering Diverse Actors to Drive Just Transitions in the Global South
A just transition lens can unlock progress on cross-cutting socioeconomic challenges by ensuring a holistic approach which includes inclusive dialogue on the co-benefits and trade-offs associated with tackling climate change.
Since the start of 2023, S2S partners have focused on engaging a variety of key stakeholders to raise awareness of the just transition, facilitate dialogue among diverse actors, and empower key actors to drive forward critical changes. We are planning high-level dialogues, roundtables, local workshops, virtual seminars, and radio broadcasts to increase understanding of and engagement with just transition concepts across society.
As a collaborative network, we seek to engage with a variety of actors, including policymakers, NGOs, industry actors, civil society and many others. If you believe your organisation or network could help to boost climate action by participating in these conversations, please contact Nicole Kempis.
There is no one size fits all framework for a just transition, as countries across the world have their own unique contexts, sectors, and cultures. However, through collaboration, commonalities can be found through similar challenges and opportunities. Together we can develop a clearer picture of what just transitions can look like, and importantly, how a just, inclusive approach can accelerate climate action.
Follow the South to South Just Transitions Twitter account to stay up to date with project updates
South to South Just Transitions is the latest initiative of Climate Strategies to progress just transition in the Global South. Since COP24 in Katowice in 2018, Climate Strategies has collaborated with researchers across the globe to engage stakeholders on a local, regional, national and global level to understand and explore how a just transition framing can accelerate climate action.
At the following COP25 in Madrid, Climate Strategies hosted a Just Transition Policy Roundtable that included UN and ILO representatives, government representatives, business and trade unions and research institutions, all of which provided a developing country perspective developing countries. Details of this event and further exploration into just transitions in developing countries can be found in our Relection Paper. It highlighted some of the labour-specific challenges to just transition in developing countries, provided guidance for policymakers and identified research and implementation gaps.
In order to address these identified gaps, in 2020 we partnered with in-country researchers in three diverse countries in the Global South: Colombia, Ghana and Indonesia. These case studies confirmed that there is no one size fits all framework for a just transition, and highlighted the importance of working with and empowering local actors to take ownership of the just transition concept. Through this work we produced a set of key guiding principles and recommendations for national governments in advancing the just transition (see Incorporating just transition strategies into developing countries NDCs and Covid-19 responses Comparing insights from Ghana, Colombia, and Indonesia). These can help inform the approach to technical and capacity building support and stakeholder engagement, including the informal economy.
Our South to South initiative now functions as a knowledge and impact network. In each country we have a leading academic partner who leads on research and stakeholder engagement.
Climate Strategies convenes the network and provides guidance, reflection and coherence of methodologies as well as organises global dissemination of research outputs. Our intention is to continue working with all nine countries and expand to more, based on relevant circumstances to the Global South just transition context.
- Watch a recording of our a dialogue on financing just transitions across the globe
London Climate Action Week 2022
- Watch the recording of our event during London Climate Action Week
- Watch a recording of our event at the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow for just transition perspectives from around the globe.
Our latest reports
- Vietnam: Just Transitions and Coal Power Phase-out in Vietnam
- Indonesia: Guidelines for Just Transitions in Indonesia
- Argentina: Key Considerations for Unified Just Transitions in Argentina
- Kenya: Incorporating Just Transitions in Kenya’s Low-Carbon Economy Development Path
- Malawi: State of Climate Action and the Scope for a Just Transition
- Laos: Challenges, Opportunities and Recommendations for a Just Transition in Laos
- Flagship report: Exploring Just Transition in the Global South
Final reports from the previous project phase:
- Incorporating just transition strategies into developing countries NDCs and Covid-19 responses. Comparing insights from Ghana, Colombia and Indonesia
- Reflection paper: Incorporating just transition strategies in developing country Nationally Determined Contributions
- Indonesia’s Long-Term Strategy for Low Carbon and Climate Resilience 2050 (includes a section on Just Transition following engagement with the project’s local research partner, Dala Institute)
- Media Coverage:
- Op-ed: Climate finance most foster just transition in developing nations (Thomson Reuters Foundation)
- How emerging economies can engage in a just transition (Energy Monitor)
- Incorporating Just Transition Strategies in Developing Countries Nationally Determined Contributions (by Glynn P.J., Błachowicz A., Nicholls M., contribution to Handbook of Climate Change Management).