Africa’s Just Transition
Making sure no one is left behind
At its heart Just Transition requires us to leave no one behind. But Just transition is not “one size fits all” miracle panacea to Africa’s challenges. It cannot be put on a template for a tick box exercise. Policies and programmes need to be designed in line with the specific conditions of countries, including their stage of development, economic sectors and types and sizes of enterprises.
If we want to secure our world for future generations, we have no option but to implement and make Just Transition a reality. The Brundtland report from 1987 provided guidelines and stated that we need to focus on “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. 1987 Brundtland report
So what is Just transition? Is it just another buzz word that will be talked about by leaders for a few years, appear on websites of private sector organisations and 25 years later, as with the Brundtland report, we find ourselves worse off than what we are today.
For me, this description of the Climate Justice Alliance is the easiest to comprehend: “Just Transition is a vision-led, unifying and place-based set of principles, processes, and practices that build economic and political power to shift from an extractive economy to a regenerative economy. This means approaching production and consumption cycles holistically and waste-free. The transition itself must be just and equitable, redressing past harms and creating new relationships of power for the future through reparations. If the process of transition is not just, the outcome will never be. Just Transition describes both where we are going and how we get there.”
Our planet is crying out for help and sending us SOS messages on a daily basis with wildfires like we’ve never seen before, extreme seasonal recorded temperatures, and water scarcity – to name only a few. Let’s not blame COVID as this scenario of greed and prosperity for the privileged few has been playing itself out long before the pandemic. All COVID did was amplify the current inequalities which exist between the global north and south.
We have seen people living in poverty for so long, especially in developing countries, and being adversely affected by climate change while the rich in the north are prospering. Most of the countries in the Global South base their economic growth on fossil fuels that directly serve the global north. This argues that countries in the Global South also have the most to lose if we do not implement Just Transition.
This takes us back to the Brundtland report; the “global agenda for change” and guiding principles for sustainable development as it is generally understood today. It stated then those critical global environmental problems are primarily the result of the enormous poverty of the South and the non-sustainable patterns of consumption and production in the North.
What is needed to make Just Transition a reality is transparent planning inclusive of the required measures to prevent fear, opposition and inter-community and generational conflict. People need to buy into a future which helps them see and understand that, notwithstanding the threats, there is both security and opportunity. Social dialogue and collaboration will be key. Government, business, trade unions and civil society groups need to collaborate in their planning and create policies that are necessary for a just transition to zero emissions.
Just transition transformation is not only about phasing out polluting sectors, it is also about new jobs, new industries, new skills, new investment and the opportunity to create a more equal and resilient economy.
The OECD Just Transition report highlight the following to create a better understanding of what is needed: “For cities, investment in low and zero emissions transport, clean energy and circular economy are the way forward. For industry, switching to renewable energy must be supplemented with clean industrial processes. For workers, collective bargaining ensures that essential support is there for reskilling and redeployment. And, for governments and their leaders, just transition offers the opportunity to solve three key challenges at once: Climate change, growing inequality and social inclusion.”
Creating Shared Value is about creating sustainability and value for all. Sustainable development is only possible with the active engagement of the world of work. Governments, employers and workers are not passive bystanders, but rather agents of change. It is within our reach and our power to develop new ways of working that safeguard the environment, our society and commit to ethical and transparent governance. We need to preserve a sustainable future for present and future generations, but above all, we need to eradicate poverty and promote social justice by fostering sustainable enterprises and creating decent work for all.
We are all responsible as a collective – all countries, including all public and private sector organisations and civil society -and we are duty bound to take care of the environment in every way possible. Challenges may seem unsurmountable at times, but we can no longer ignore Just Transition if we are to leave no one behind.
Founder & CEO