Just transition and companies

Anna Triponel

September 9, 2022
Our key takeaway: The UN Global Compact, and the Think Lab on Just Transition it is hosting, has just released guidance for companies on the just transition. If you are unsure what the just transition means, or looking to make the business case for just transition within your business, or unsure of how to proceed in practical terms, or all of the above, this brief has your back. Ultimately, in the words of the Think Lab: “just transition is an opportunity for your business, a priority for our society and a necessity for our planet.” We don’t have any time to lose to start integrating just transition principles into the heart of business practices. This has shifted from a nice-to-have, to a fundamental business imperative. The name of the game is engagement, dialogue and partnership - with communities, workers, the supply chain, customers and governments. Wherever you are on the journey, today is a good day to take the next step.

The United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), and the Think Lab on Just Transition it is hosting (launched at COP26 with the ILO and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)), has released ‘Introduction to Just Transition: A Business Brief’ (September 2022):

  • The just transition and the role of businesses: The brief delves into the meaning of a just transition - highlighting how a “just transition leverages the net-zero transition to advance decent work, promote social inclusion and eradicate poverty. Putting people at the center of climate action secures the support and participation required for the climate transition itself.” The brief makes clear that “businesses large and small are critical agents of change in the shared ambition to build a just and sustainable world. The structural transformation of the net-zero transition offers a once-in-a-century opportunity to put justice, human rights, equity and sustainability at the core of our economies and societies. Harnessing the opportunities of climate action and managing its challenges depends on private sector action and support.” The brief delves into what this just transition means in practice for companies - with a focus on identifying and implementing stakeholder-focused practices with communities, workers, the supply chain, customers and governments. 
  • The Business Case for Just Transition: The brief provides a number of arguments for those looking to make the business case as to bring their senior leaders along. In particular, “[s[ocial dialogue and good workforce practices reduce risks, costs and improve productivity” and “[a] focus on stakeholders reduces risk and adds value to decarbonization / adaptation plans.” The brief also describes how “[i]nvestors and financial Institutions are acting on just transition, with implications for companies” and how “[s]upport for an economy-wide just transition mitigates systemic risks.” The brief notes that “[u]ltimately, just transition is an opportunity for your business, a priority for our society and a necessity for our planet.” 
  • Seven priority areas for companies: The brief provides seven priority actions for all companies. First, “Make a map: Internal engagement on just transition, mapping key touch points and identifying priorities, in light of your company’s impact and influence.” Second, “Set a foundation: Respect for rights at work and other human rights through robust policies and practices; gender and social equity in the workforce.” Third, “Engage: Engagement with worker organizations in bipartite and tripartite social dialogue and with all affected stakeholders as a core piece of transition planning, implementation and monitoring.” Fourth, “Plan: Long-term business planning for a just transition which integrates social dialogue and stakeholder engagement; prioritizes job creation and reskilling/upskilling; protects groups in vulnerable situations; maximizes local socioeconomic benefits; promotes social equity; supports equitable customer access; and contributes to climate resilience for companies and their stakeholders alike.” Fifth, “Take action: Just transition plans put into action across relevant business functions, integrating ongoing social dialogue, engaging stakeholders, and carrying out due diligence of human rights and environmental impacts and their linkages. Sixth, “Partner: Social dialogue with workers’ organizations and Governments for more coordinated action around key challenges; partnerships with employer organizations, regional/sectoral initiatives and across supply chains to promote an enabling environment for a just transition.” Seventh, “Learn - Integrate - Communicate: Measurement and reporting of actions, challenges and impacts related to just transition in order to promote learning, cooperation and accountability.”

You may also be interested in

This week’s latest resources, articles and summaries.