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What is "Just Transition"?

Seizing the Urban Opportunity: How National Governments can Recover from Covid-19, Tackle the Climate Crisis and Secure shared Prosperity through Cities

This collaborative report examines how national governments can leverage cities to help address the triple challenge of Covid-19, sustainable development, and climate change.


The authors discuss how national governments can harness cities to bring about a sustainable and inclusive post-pandemic economic recovery while achieving climate goals. They focus on six emerging economies to demonstrate how fostering zero-carbon, resilient, and inclusive cities can advance national economic priorities for shared prosperity.

Referencing case studies from China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa, the authors explore three themes: 1) the need for a low-carbon urban transformation and its associated socio-economic benefits; 2) the importance of both resilience and decarbonization; and 3) the availability of resources to foster low-carbon, resilient, and inclusive cities. To inspire countries ahead of the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), they analyze how cities can help national governments not only achieve their climate goals and shared prosperity, but also accelerate the Covid-19 recovery by making them more connected, inclusive, and clean.

The authors conclude with a global call to action, urging national governments to develop climate and sustainable development strategies centered around cities. While governments are essential to implementing transformative policies, the authors urge national leadership to partner with the private sector and local climate-action groups to finance sustainable and resilient urban infrastructure.

Mapping Just Transition(s) to a Low-carbon World

This paper defines just transitions and emphasizes the term’s roots in social and environmental justice, especially for those in the climate sphere who are less familiar with these underpinnings.


This paper helps define just transitions, emphasizing the origins of the concept in the labor movement and in social and environmental justice. The paper includes a schematic of the approaches of various groups to just transitions, mapping the views of various stakeholders and broadly grouping them under four approaches: status quo maintenance, managerial reform, structural reform, and transformative reform.

The authors review the origins of the concept of just transitions in the U.S. labor movement in the 1970s and discuss how it spread in the 2000s, largely under the rubric of climate policy and with more support from UN agencies and the International Labor Organization (ILO). The authors also explore the evolution of the just transition concept through case studies of six countries: Brazil, Canada, Germany, Kenya, South Africa, and the United States.

An Institutional Analysis of Biofuel Policies and their Social Implications: Lessons from Brazil, India and Indonesia

This report assesses the social and environmental impacts of the ambitious biofuel policy programs of Brazil, India, and Indonesia.


“This comparative assessment of Brazil, India, and Indonesia—which have sought to spur rural development through the development of biofuel alternatives—indicates there are several limitations associated with socially oriented biofuel policy. In particular, these countries adopted a two-tiered approach that largely relied upon established agribusiness and only incorporated the rural poor by having them cultivate non-food crops on “marginal lands.” The author offers a list of biofuel policy recommendations for achieving more extensive socioeconomic benefits for the rural poor.

For the three countries, biofuels policy tools often included subsidies, tax incentives, and blending mandates. However, these poorly designed, top-down policies failed to alleviate the burdens of the rural poor and were later revised. These approaches often expanded incentives and markets for corporations instead of for smallholders, failed to address equity issues, and lacked smallholder participation. These policy failures resulted in increased food insecurity, exploitation of smallholders by government and agribusiness, increased instances of monoculture (which can result in reduced crop yield or resilience and therefore lost income), and poor quality of employment opportunities (as reflected in increases in seasonal and migrant work).

In the future, more participatory decision-making in biofuel policies is needed to avoid these failures and improve outcomes for the rural poor. The report identifies three elements that appear to be crucial to successful biofuel policies: combination of feedstock and food production; inclusion of the concerns and interests of smallholders; and provisions for smallholders to gradually ascend in the value chain, specifically in expanding local ownership of oil extraction facilities.”