Ana Gonzalez Alonso

The UAE Just Transitions Work Programme (JTWP) is a key initiative in the global effort to advance the goals of the Paris Agreement. As nations move towards a sustainable future, the journey is marked by both promising advancements and significant challenges. This post provides a snapshot of recent developments and negotiations surrounding the JTWP during SB60 in Bonn.

The overall feeling about climate negotiations in Bonn was that progress was slow, with most conversations remaining superficial. These sentiments were reflected in the 1st Just Transition Work Programme dialogue ―in which Climate Strategies participated as part of our ongoing work on Just Transitions, including our South to South project. This two-day dialogue was centred around a mandated discussion on Just Transition pathways to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement through NDCs, NAPs and LT-LEDs. This conversation was particularly important given that countries are tasked with developing ambitious 1.5°-aligned NDCs on the road to Belem in 2025. You can read our submission, which includes insights from our international research and practice, here.

A missed opportunity for depth and operationalisation

Despite high expectations, the 1st JTWP dialogue left much to be desired. Conversations remained superficial, with ice-breaker presentations and general interventions focusing more on what has been done rather than on the specifics of policy implementation and employed methodologies. The break-out room format further limited the dialogue’s usefulness for countries looking to adapt and replicate successful strategies for Just Transitions within their unique contexts. Nonetheless, the dialogue highlighted several emerging needs: modelling the socio-economic impacts of Just Transitions, developing indicators and metrics for measuring progress and impact, and gathering data on indirect populations to understand the broader implications of transitions.

Despite the widespread call for an actionable JTWP, the conversations during daily negotiation sessions at SB60 never really took off, thus revealing a gap between the desire for implementation and the practicalities of achieving consensus. Countries found themselves reiterating fixed positions, not listening or talking to the opposing side. Persistent disagreements and a reluctance to fully engage, particularly around the means of implementation (MoI), international cooperation for Just Transitions, and the creation of a work plan, stalled progress.

After two weeks of negotiations at Bonn, agreement could only be reached on a draft conclusions text that was more about setting the stage than operationalising the work programme. Still, the conclusions text provided some procedural improvements, including more clarity on dialogue topic selection, the importance of increasing non-party participation, and the publication of informal summaries post-dialogues. This effectively means that the substantive work will need to be done in COP29 in Baku.

Moving forward with hope

The journey towards Just Transitions is complex, marked by diverse national contexts and priorities. The negotiations reflect the broader challenge of aligning global ambitions with practical actionable steps. As the JTWP continues to evolve, the hope is that the next engagements will foster deeper and more effective cooperation, as well as tangible progress toward a sustainable and equitable future.

Building on the current international momentum for Just Transitions, the JTWP has a unique opportunity to strengthen implementation and ambition. However, if key differences are not bridged and countries do not commit to real and impactful engagements, the programme risks losing momentum and relevance, with its potential reduced to delivering only two dialogues per year and their subsequent summaries.

Our South to South Just Transitions project (S2S) empowers countries in the Global South to pioneer new research on Just Transitions and to advance these transitions in diverse national contexts. The project aims to strengthen research capacity and build evidence for Just Transition agendas in the Global South. In that vein, we are currently working with in-country partners in Colombia and Ghana to support their domestic action on Just Transitions through multi-level multi-stakeholder domestic dialogues that gather actionable recommendations in relation to the JTWP, with the aim of connecting international dialogues with the realities at the national level.

Additionally, given the importance of a cross-cutting approach to Just Transitions — one which supports a multi-sector strategy, goes beyond mitigation to incorporate adaptation, and enables multi-stakeholder participation — we are working with in-country partners in Kenya and Bangladesh to spearhead research identifying what just resilience means at the national level, with the aim of identifying national priorities. Our ultimate goal is to co-create a concept at the international level that reflects the needs of the global majority, ensuring that frameworks and practices respond to the realities of communities most affected by climate change.