Commentary | Just Transitions: Lessons Learned in South Africa and Eastern Europe - climateinvestmentfunds

CIF and CSIS recently held a second workshop to discuss just transitions—an approach that seeks to ensure workers and communities are both protected and benefit from the deep and rapid changes to come in the transition to a new climate economy. Experts discussed case studies from countries where just transitions approaches are advancing and shared ongoing research and lessons learned that can further inform the next phases of the Just Transition Initiative.

CIF and CSIS recently held a second workshop to discuss just transitions—an approach that seeks to ensure workers and communities are both protected and benefit from the deep and rapid changes to come in the transition to a new climate economy. Experts discussed case studies from countries where just transitions approaches are advancing and shared ongoing research and lessons learned that can further inform the next phases of the Just Transition Initiative.

 

There is a growing body of research on just transitions, but case studies tend to focus on developed economies. More case studies on sub-Saharan Africa, developing Asia, and Latin America would help illuminate how to achieve just transitions in countries with particularly vulnerable populations, fewer economic resources, and more limited social safety nets. Case studies can also deliver deeper insights on issues such as planning processes, financing options, and impact assessments in all regions (see the summary below).    

South Africa

The first discussion focused on South Africa, where the need for just transitions is especially urgent, driven in part by the country’s reliance on coal. Accounting for about 89 percent of South Africa’s electricity generation and 74 percent of its total primary energy supply, coal has been a critical part of South Africa’s economy for decades. It provides inexpensive inputs for electricity generation, an important source of export revenue, and employment for some 200,000 people through mining, power stations, and transport. But the environmental impact has been significant. The country’s carbon dioxide emissions per capita in 2017 were the tenth-highest in the world.

 

Market and policy signals indicate an inevitable decline of the coal sector, but a transition from coal presents numerous economic, social, and political challenges. Coal mining and coal power generation are heavily concentrated in four municipalities of a single province, Mpumalanga, where the industry is critical to workers and the broader community. Unemployment in South Africa reached 30 percent in the first quarter of this year, so any program that has the potential to lead to job losses is likely to trigger concern and a strong response from influential coal-linked unions. Meanwhile, the state-owned power company Eskom continues to struggle with financial and management issues that have contributed to increased costs, high emissions, and frequent load shedding, all while 2.2 million households still lack access to power. Yet many trade unions including the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) criticize efforts to increase the role of privately owned independent power producers.

 

The threats to coal in South Africa have been clear for many years, and the need for a just transition for coal workers and communities is well understood. Indeed, the just transitions discourse is long established in South Africa, with the country’s largest trade confederation, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, or COSATU, calling for a just transition as early as 2011. The following year, the National Development Plan (NDP) included a chapter on just transitions.

 

One commentator in the workshop emphasized the need for just transitions efforts to address South Africa’s socioeconomic realities, especially issues of racial justice. He emphasized that black communities currently carry disproportionate negative externalities from business-as-usual policies in the energy sector, and many lack access to basic public goods such as water and electricity. But policies that elevate renewable energy—while failing to support local ownership and socioeconomic transformation—are unlikely to address these underlying issues. The high concentration of coal mines and power stations in one region of South Africa provides an opportunity to support economic diversification in ways that create environmental, social, and economic benefits and thus unlock support for a transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient, and inclusive economy.

 

Find out more...

Go back

Partners News

Sub-regional forum of traditional chefferies and local actors of the transfrontal transhumance in favour of the construction of a dialogue (Nigeria, Central Africa, Chad, Cameroon), Rey-Bouba (Cameroon) from 25 to 28 October 2021

The GIZ Support Project to the BSB YAMOUSSA complex, in collaboration with the Lamidat of Rey Bouba, proposes to organize a sub-regional forum of direct local actors of transboundary transhumance and traditional stakeholders from the grassroots communities, with a view to exchanging, sharing experiences and reflecting on the construction of dialogue in favour of a peaceful transhumance.

42 NGOs alarmed at the EU for possibly abandoning the fight against illegal logging and failing forested countries - FLEGT

In this letter to the Slovenian and French Presidencies of the EU, 42 civil society networks and organisations from countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America call on the European Union (EU) to strengthen support to the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Regulation and its Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs), the EU’s key legal instruments to fight illegal logging, and the associated trade.

Global Forest Watch: perspectives from the developed (Northern) and developing (Southern) countries

This is a second polite reminder to let you know we are conducting an anonymous evaluation funded by the World Resources Institute (WRI) of forest monitoring information and tools, and their usefulness, with a particular focus on Global Forest Watch (GFW), and stakeholder perspectives.

CBFP Study Package - Publications available for download

The German CBFP Facilitation has commissioned a package of 6 thematic studies on pertinent issues in Congo Basin forest politics (namely REDD+ in the Congo Basin, Land Use Planning, Transhumance, Ecotourism, Sustainable value chains, China´s role in Central African forestry) as well as an overarching synthesis study. Each study consists of a full study report as well as a short policy brief. Please download the CBFP Study Package…

Protecting the forests of the Congo Basin: Synthesis report of studies conducted during the German Facilitation of the CBFP in 2021

...In addition to this effort at the global policy level, the facilitation commissioned six thematic studies related to specific opportunities and challenges for the forests of the Congo Basin and the people who depend directly on the products, biodiversity and ecosystem services the forests provide. The six studies and a policy brief for each study were prepared between December 2020 and August 2021. They focus on the following topics...

Advancing Sustainability in China´s Engagement in the Congo Basin - CBFP

Over the last 10 to 15 years, China has increasingly taken note of the potential environmental and forest impacts of its overseas trade, investment and other economic activities. However, timber trade between China and Africa has so far not met the requirements of international legality and sustainability standards. Furthermore, China is highly involved in investment and construction of infrastructure projects that may have caused forest conversion due to a lack of comprehensive, effective management measures and a lack of environmental impact analyses.

Tourism in the Congo Basin Rainforests: How to accelerate tourism and make it regionally sustainable- CBFP

This study was performed with the intent of understanding the challenges to developing eco-tourism in the Congo Basin, and of identifying actions and recommendations to overcome these challenges. A background study of the existing literature, research articles, reports and national strategies (where available) was performed to ascertain the political strategies and academic understanding of ecotourism in the region.

The Dynamics and Impacts of Transhumance and Neo-Pastoralism on Biodiversity, Local Communities and Security: Congo Basin - CBFP

This study was carried out to shed light on issues related to this activity and provide basic knowledge of various aspects relating to livestock rearing, neo-pastoralism and unsustainable transhumance. The study area covers the Sudano-Sahelian region of Africa – specifically, the area stretching from the northern fringes of the Congo Basin (Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic) and the south-eastern part of the southern Lake Chad Basin, namely the Sudano-Guinean savanna mosaics. The methodology adopted was to collect data from various sources, including from key stake-holders and literature review.

Promoting sustainable value chains in the Congo Basin: An analysis and set of recommendations based on three case studies in producing and importing countries – CBFP Study

The first case study is dedicated to the spectacular policy announcement by Gabon that it would make FSC timber certification mandatory from 2022 onwards for all concessionaires willing to keep operating in the country. Such certification is relatively advanced in Gabon and this unprecedented policy stands as an intriguing and promising example in the region. The second case study relates to a prominent approach that has emerged and grown over the last decade, namely corporate zero-deforestation commitments. This is complementary to the first case study as it refers to a process initiated by the private sector itself, and we apply it to the oil palm sector in Cameroon. For the third case study, we move to the importation side of things with the most advanced policy effort to take action in consuming countries, namely the French National Strategy against Imported Deforestation (SNDI).

Current State, Barriers and Perspectives for REDD+ in the Congo Basin - CBFP

The report draws on a thorough review of the available literature. It is complemented by 21 semi-structured anonymous interviews with key REDD+ experts. The authors conducted the interviews between November 2020 and February 2021. Interview partners include represent-atives of Congo Basin countries, donor states, academia, NGOs and independent technical experts. Instead of going to lengths in elucidating the entire range of options for reducing deforestation and forest degradation, the study report lists concrete courses of action which might be pursued in the future.

Full NDC Synthesis Report: Some Progress, but Still a Big Concern – UNFCCC

UN Climate Change News, 17 September 2021 – UN Climate Change today published a synthesis of climate action plans as communicated in countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The NDC Synthesis report indicates that while there is a clear trend that greenhouse gas emissions are being reduced over time, nations must urgently redouble their climate efforts if they are to prevent global temperature increases beyond the Paris Agreement’s goal of well below 2C – ideally 1.5C – by the end of the century.

World Religious Leaders and Scientists Make pre-COP26 Appeal – UNFCCC

UN Climate Change News, 5 October 2021 – Faith leaders representing the world’s major religions yesterday joined scientists at the Vatican to call on the international community to raise their ambition and step up their climate action ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in November in Glasgow. Almost 40 faith leaders signed a joint Appeal, which was presented by Pope Francis to COP26 President-Designate, the Rt Hon Alok Sharma, and the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Luigi Di Maio.

SEI Report Assesses Transboundary Climate Risks in Commodity Flows - IISD

The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) has published a report providing a global assessment of transboundary climate risks in agricultural commodity flows. Its authors explain that the material risk posed to food security, particularly in low-income, import-dependent countries, is such that adaptation to transboundary climate risk becomes a matter of public policy.

Responding to Crises Starts Years in Advance: 2021 Goalkeepers Report - IISD

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has released its annual Goalkeepers Report, which tracks progress on 18 SDG indicators and reflects on trends influencing the Goals. In the introduction to the 2021 Goalkeepers report, titled ‘Innovation and Inequity,’ Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates write that the past year has shown that “progress is possible but not inevitable. The effort we put in matters a great deal.” The report aims to highlight learnings from the successes and failures of the pandemic so far.

Poor charcoal production techniques fuel tree cutting in Kenya – CIFOR

A new study conducted by scientists from the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF), and partner organizations shows that charcoal producers have little or no support to engage in the replanting of trees, which could lead to a lower rate of deforestation in the already tree-scarce areas where most charcoal is produced.

Vienna Convention, Montreal Protocol Offer Lessons for Climate Agreements -IISD

The latest ‘Still Only One Earth’ policy brief from IISD looks back at when “the world was struck with fear” in 1985 after scientists discovered a massive hole in the ozone that forms a protective layer over the Earth. The brief reviews the steps taken to heal the ozone layer through two intergovernmental agreements – the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer – and what else must be done. It also highlights lessons for addressing climate change.

Appeal made for international commitment to protecting the Congo Basin ecosystems and their vicinity at the IUCN World Conservation Congress

Jointly organized by COMIFAC, CBFP, GIZ, CAFI and IUCN, as part of the Congo Basin Special Day at the World Conservation Congress, a high-level session on the Congo Basin, was held from 2:30 p.m. to 3:15 p.m on 05/09/2021., at the SPACE CENTER, Exhibition HALL 3.

Geopolitics of the World’s Forests: Strategies for Tackling Deforestation – IFRI

Deforestation continues at a worrying pace worldwide, except in temperate and boreal countries. It is caused by the race for land, underpinned by population growth and rising global demand for “deforestation-prone” products. Moreover, with climate change, mega-fires are now posing unprecedented threats to forests.

A second high-level session on the protection of the Congo Basin: Representatives of bilateral donor countries come together to help protect forests and wetlands in the green heart of Africa at the World Nature Congress

Jointly organized by COMIFAC, the CBFP, GIZ, CAFI and the IUCN, as part of the Congo Basin Special Day at the World Conservation Congress, a second high-level session on the preservation of the Congo Basin’s ecosystems took place on 05/09/2021 at 6:00 p.m. local time at the PAVILLON NATURE BASE SOLUTION, Exhibition HALL 3.

IUCN World Conservation Congress 2020 – IISD Report of main proceedings for 7 September 2021

Following four busy and inspirational days of work, the Forum concluded its deliberations. During another bustling day, participants attended thematic sessions and high-level dialogues during the morning. In the afternoon, seven thematic plenaries outlined the main take-home messages from the Forum’s discussions, followed by the official Forum closing plenary.