COP26 Logo 'UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021 In partnership with Italy'

04.11.2021

Supporting the Conditions for a Just Transition Internationally

Green growth, decent work, and economic prosperity in the transition to net zero.

As the world recovers from COVID-19, we aim to deliver sustainable, green and inclusive economic growth to meet the challenge of decarbonising our economies, in line with limiting the global average temperature increase to 1.5°C above the preindustrial levels. 

The Paris Agreement preamble reflects the close links between climate action, sustainable development, and a just transition, with Parties to the Agreement “taking into account the imperatives of a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs in accordance with nationally defined development priorities”. The International Labour Organization’s (ILO) 2015 Guidelines for a Just Transition, negotiated between governments, employers, and their organisations, as well as workers and their Trade Unions, established a global understanding for the term “just transition”. It describes it as a process “towards an environmentally sustainable economy, which “needs to be well managed and contribute to the goals of decent work for all, social inclusion and the eradication of poverty”.  

We recognise that the effects of climate change disproportionately affect those in poverty, and can exacerbate economic, gender and other social inequalities, including those resulting from discriminatory practices based upon race and ethnicity; the transition towards net zero will affect, most acutely, those in workforces in sectors, cities and regions relying on carbon-intensive industries and production. With that in mind, we also recognise our role in climate change mitigation and adaptation action that is fully inclusive and benefits the most vulnerable through the more equitable distribution of resources, enhanced economic and political empowerment, improved health and wellbeing, resilience to shocks and disasters and access to skills development and employment opportunities. This should also display: a commitment to gender equality, racial equality and social cohesion; protection of the rights of Indigenous Peoples; disability inclusion; intergenerational equity and young people; the promotion of women and girls; marginalised persons’ leadership and involvement in decision-making; and recognition of the value of their knowledge and leadership; and support for the collective climate action of diverse social groups. Social dialogue as well as rights at work are indispensable building blocks of sustainable development and must be at the centre of policies for strong, sustainable, and inclusive growth and development.  

We recognise our role in working to ensure that no one is left behind in the transition to a net zero and climate resilient future. We recognise that all countries must benefit from the opportunities offered by sustainable and just transitions. This should include access to modern technologies, capacity building and finance, as well as policy solutions to manage transitions in a just and inclusive way. We also recognise the challenges faced by fossil fuel revenue-dependent countries. We recognise that a just transition is not the replacement of one industry with another, but a diversification toward a more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive economy overall. Lastly, we recognise the importance of facilitating the transition from the informal to the formal economy, through social dialogue, to ensure that no one is left behind, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.  

We intend to support developing countries and emerging economies, social partners, and communities to diversify their economies away from dependence on carbon-intensive industries, and to transition to ambitious, clean, resilient growth and development pathways, while supporting increased ambition in their national sustainable development priorities. Therefore, we intend to do this by supporting those countries’ economic growth, the creation of decent and sustainable green jobs and new sustainable investments as, globally, we transition to net zero. This builds on commitments to a just transition set out in the Silesia Declaration in Poland and the Climate Action for Jobs Initiative. We support the following principles, and aim to work with relevant international organisations, including the ILO and others, to implement them across our international financial and technical assistance programmes when supporting developing and emerging economies:  

  1. Support for workers in the transition to new jobs: We intend to support communities and regions that are particularly vulnerable to the economic, employment and social effects of a global transition away from carbon-intensive activity, and will take account of the impacts on, and benefits for all affected by this global transition away from a carbon-intensive economy in developing and emerging economies. We intend for our support to take into account the ILO Guidelines for a Just Transition. We envisage making efforts so that financial flows align with the Paris Agreement temperature goal, by promoting pathways consistent with net zero emissions by 2050 and keeping a 1.5°C temperature limit within reach, while also supporting social aspects of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals.  
  1. Support and promote social dialogue and stakeholder engagement: We recognise that the development of effective, nationally coherent, locally driven and delivered just transition plans within countries are dependent on effective and inclusive social dialogue. We intend to support and promote social dialogue between governments and the representative organisations of workers and employers, including those in secondary industries that are dependent on carbon-intensive industries as well as other stakeholders, in accordance with inter alia the relevant fundamental rights at work. We also recognise that other key stakeholders need to be engaged to ensure no one is left behind. This support may include strengthening social dialogue through capacity building of the participants.  
  1. Economic Strategies: We recognise that supporting a just transition from a carbon intensive economy to a net zero future not only involves support for clean energy to strengthen the ecological foundations of the economy, but also requires enabling frameworks and wider economic and industrial support for workers, enterprises, communities and countries to create sustainable, competitive economies that foster resource-efficient economic growth, create income and decent jobs, and reduce poverty and inequality. It also requires a sound framework to deal with local ecological impacts of the transition (e.g. contaminated sites). We intend to provide support to developing countries and emerging economies to support them in creating those long-term strategies, ensuring sustainable and inclusive economic recovery and growth, and embedding the creation of decent work and economic diversification.  
  1. Local, inclusive, and decent work: We will aim that new jobs, and transitioning jobs, support the creation of decent, formalised, and sustainable work for people in their local areas, which is coupled with effective support for reskilling and training, as well as adequate, inclusive, and sustainable social protection for those in need. This includes the targeting of disadvantaged groups in the local labour market and community, such as those living in poverty, marginalised groups, women, and workers in the informal economy to achieve a transition to formality. In terms of low carbon investment, we intend to provide for the inclusion of measures that promote and advance the realisation of decent work for all. This includes occupational health and safety in accordance with the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization of 2008, and assisting the realisation in practice of the principles concerning the fundamental rights as reflected in the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up of 1998. We will work to support skills development and labour policies that support the transition to decent jobs in other sectors and support economic diversification into clean sectors in carbon-dependent regions, while empowering marginalised groups to participate equitably in the transition.  
  1. Supply chains: We recognise that transitions also impact businesses in supply chains and the health, environmental and broader social and economic interests of those economically reliant on those supply chains. We aim to focus on ensuring that existing supply chains, and the new and emerging supply chains required for the clean transition, create decent work for all, including for the most marginalised, and create equitable employment across borders. We intend to advance respect for human rights consistent with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and intend to respect relevant fundamental rights, including on the prohibition of slavery, child labour and forced labour. We urge businesses to ensure their supply chains are free of human rights abuses, including through carrying out corporate due diligence in line with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the ILO’s Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy. We also intend to consider the wider environmental, health, social and employment impacts of the operation of global supply chains, including the importance of building climate resilience into supply chains across all industries. 
  1. Paris Agreement reporting and Just Transition: We intend to include information on Just Transition efforts, where relevant, in our national Biennial Transparency Reports in the context of reporting on our policies and measures to achieve our Nationally Determined Contributions.  

Taking note of the recommendations from the IEA Global Commission on People-Centred Clean Energy Transitions and recognising the work of the IRENA Collaborative Framework on Just and Inclusive Energy Transitions, we invite all relevant international organisations to work with the supporters of this Declaration to promote its implementation, where needed, including future opportunities to showcase progress towards including these principles in strategies and programmes. We aim to promote this Declaration on the international stage.  

Signed by: 

The Government of the United Kingdom 

Belgium 

The Government of Canada 

The Government of the Kingdom of Denmark 

The European Union

The Government of the French Republic 

The Government of the Federal Republic of Germany

Greece

The Government of the Italian Republic 

The Government of the Netherlands 

The Government of New Zealand

The Government of the Kingdom of Norway 

The Government of the Republic of Poland 

The Government of Spain 

The Government of the Kingdom of Sweden 

The Federal Government of the United States