Delivers a Just and Equitable Transition

About This Route

A just and equitable transition “promotes environmentally sustainable economies in a way that is inclusive, by creating decent work opportunities, reducing inequality and by leaving no one behind” – see “ILO Proposed resolution and conclusions on a Just Transition”. This includes optimizing the benefits and addressing the challenges stemming from the implementation of climate action. Just Transition approaches often involve inclusive social dialogue and broader stakeholder engagement, building community resilience and social justice, facilitating economic equity and upholding labor rights. Participation can ensure that the transition process incorporates the diverse perspectives and needs of people to ensure no one is left behind – notably affected communities, workers, their households and industries.

Key policy areas supporting people throughout the transition, notably affected workers, their households, and communities, include social protection, such as social assistance, social insurance and active labor market interventions, reskilling/up skilling, job creation, economic diversification, sustainable enterprise development, or community development schemes.

These different policy instruments can be used to avoid and mitigate negative impacts of climate action on communities. For instance, social protection systems can cover those affected by structural changes through unemployment protection, pensions or other financial support to (re)enter the labor market. Active labor market interventions can address the employment impacts of the transition, including skills development, job search, job subsidies and direct creation of employment through public works programs. Policies to safeguard the well-being of vulnerable populations, such as providing financial assistance, healthcare, and affordable housing, need to accompany climate policies during the transition period.

While cushioning adverse impacts is important, a “just” transition also requires enabling people to contribute to the transition process. Social protection programs can provide financial support and incentives for sustainable and green decisions and investments. They can also enable further development of income-earning capacity through education, retraining, and job placement, empowering workers in transitioning industries to adapt to new opportunities, fostering economic resilience and inclusivity.

As of December 2023, 45 Parties to the UNFCCC representing 71 countries had explicitly mentioned Just Transition in their NDCs. NDCs 3.0 could reflect Just Transition activities and responses by incorporating measures that prioritize social equity, economic fairness, and decent work opportunities while addressing climate change, or could demonstrate the explicit connection between climate ambition and the workforce needs to mobilize action across the economy.

Paris Agreement and international context

The “Just Transition” gained wide recognition in global climate policy through its inclusion in the preamble to the Paris Agreement. COP24 established the Solidarity and Just Transition Silesia Declaration, and COP26 the Just Transition Declaration.

The COP26 Glasgow Climate Pact (Decision 1/CMA.3) “recognizes the need to ensure just transitions that promote sustainable development and eradication of poverty, and the creation of decent work and quality jobs, including through making financial flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emission and climate-resilient development, including through deployment and transfer of technology, and provision of support to developing country Parties” (Paragraph 85).

COP27 established the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan. In Section VIII (Implementation – Pathways to Just Transition) the plan “Affirms that sustainable and just solutions to the climate crisis must be founded on meaningful and effective social dialogue and participation of all stakeholders and notes that the global transition to low emissions provides opportunities and challenges for sustainable economic development and poverty eradication” and “Emphasizes that just and equitable transition encompasses pathways that include energy, socioeconomic, workforce and other dimensions, all of which must be based on nationally defined development priorities and include social protection so as to mitigate potential impacts associated with the transition, and highlights the important role of the instruments related to social solidarity and protection in mitigating the impacts of applied measures”.

The UNFCCC’s Agreement on the Just Transition Work Program (JTWP) was also established at COP27, with its modalities adopted at COP28 in 2023 (Draft Decision -/CMA.5).

Note that before the issue of Just Transition was included in the Paris Agreement, the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC) addressed inequalities among countries through mechanisms like climate finance and technology sharing. While CBDR-RC has addressed differential capacities and equity concerns among countries, the emphasis of the just transition concept has predominantly centered on ensuring equity and social justice within countries. However, domestic efforts toward a just transition are influenced by international dynamics and resources. Other efforts to include equity in UNFCCC processes, as well as in country responses to climate change include, for example, the Lima Work Programme on Gender. The Katowice Committee of Experts on the Impacts of the Implementation of Response Measures (KCI) is another other example of efforts that also look at equity in country responses.

Lastly, in 2023, all 187 Member States of the ILO, as well as respective worker and employer representatives, endorsed the Guidelines for a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all (ILO) as a central policy reference for Just transition (See Matters arising out of the work of the 111th Session (2023) of the International Labour Conference (ILO)). These will also provide an important framework for country just transition responses.

Reflecting the Global Stocktake

Just Transition and equity considerations are highlighted in the outcome of the first Global Stocktake (GST), which includes the following key paragraphs:

  • Paragraph 10:  “Underlines that Just Transitions can support more robust and equitable mitigation outcomes, with tailored approaches addressing different contexts”;
  • Paragraph 140: “Notes that just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs, and economic diversification are key to maximizing the positive and minimizing the negative impacts of response measures and that strategies related to just transition and economic diversification should be implemented taking into account different national circumstances and contexts”.

Guiding Questions

Use the following guiding questions to reflect and identify the most nationally appropriate and impactful Opportunities within this Route, to explore more deeply:

Did the last NDC explicitly consider a Just Transition? Are additional Just Transition actions being considered in NDC 3.0 to demonstrate progression?

Is there a Just Transition strategy or other plans, a need to ensure these are reflected in the NDC 3.0?

Is there interest in establishing a national framework for Just Transition processes and identifying specific areas for action alongside the NDC?

Did the prioritization of actions in the last NDC involve estimating the impacts (positive and negative) on affected peoples and communities through qualitative or quantitative assessment? For instance, social, economic, health, or gender impact assessments, skills gap analysis, and stakeholder engagement.

Were the voices of vulnerable and/or affected communities or groups heard and considered in the process? How inclusive are the mechanisms for engaging with workers, affected groups and communities, and civil society organizations in climate policy discussions in your NDC?

Are there mechanisms in place to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of accompanying policies (labor market, social protection, etc.) in promoting a Just Transition?

How This Links to Other Routes

Just Transition approaches are essential to consider in all aspects of NDCs and wider climate action processes. Click on the links below to read more.

Route: Aligned to the Paris Agreement Temperature Goal

Just Transition supports achieving more comprehensive mitigation goals in NDCs. By ensuring a smooth transition for workers and communities, it fosters long-term commitment to these goals.

Route: Aligned to Paris Agreement Global Goal on Adaptation

Just Transition supports achieving more comprehensive adaptation goals in NDCs by ensuring a range of social, economic, and environmental factors are taken into consideration when designing adaptation actions.

Route: Unlocks Finance

Demonstrating social responsibility and broad-based support and participation in climate action can attract more investment, unlocking finance and capacity for sustainable development projects outlined in NDCs.​

Route: Mobilizes All-Of-Government and All-Of-Society

Just Transition requires inclusive dialogue with stakeholders like workers, communities, enterprises/businesses, educations/training providers, and NGOs. This builds trust and ownership for the NDC, supporting stronger implementation.​

Route: Technically Sound and Transparent Documents

Just Transition ensures that all stakeholders are involved in the decision-making process, promoting trust and cooperation and leading to a more comprehensive understanding of technical aspects and more transparent planning.​

Route: Technology and Capacity-Building as Needs and Enablers

The skills development and economic diversification aspects of a Just Transition can highlight needs for new technologies and capacity building, informing NDC priorities in these areas.

Support Opportunities

Support is available to countries to apply the learning from the navigator and develop ambitious NDCs 3.0.

Share Additional Resources

Contribute new guidance, tools and strategies to be reflected in the NDC 3.0.