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Pathways for Just Transitions

Gender-Responsive Policies and Place-Based Investment 

An employee works on February 1, 2013 on a wind turbine tower at the FrancEole wind turbines factory in Le Creusot. (AFP PHOTO / JEFF PACHOUD via Getty Images)

Climate change poses an unprecedented threat to the planet, requiring rapid economic and social transformations that will affect workers and communities and have broader impacts on society. Governments, labor groups, investors, civil society, and environmental organizations are increasingly using the principles of just transitions to address the social implications of climate policy and ensure that workers and communities are supported and empowered through these changes. It is essential to make the tools and strategies for just transitions more accessible and relevant to policymakers. This paper summarizes several policy objectives and tools, as well as cross-cutting enablers that can support socially inclusive processes and equitable distribution of the risks and benefits associated with transitions.

Cross-Cutting Enablers

Political economy analysis
Power-Mapping: key actors, influence, and preferences
Stakeholder engagement
Consultation: interviews, surveys, discussion groups, negotiations
Public outreach: transparent communication strategies
Capacity building
Skills development and knowledge sharing between institutions and communities
Impact analysis
Identifying pre-existing and potential inequalities and vulnerabilities
Social and environmental impact assessments




Promote decent work and labor protections: employment that delivers fair income, workplace security, equality of opportunity for women and men, and the ability to organize.


  • Social dialogue
  • Social protections (unemployment insurance and benefits, workforce redeployment, non-financial transition assistance)
  • Skills development (vocational training and reskilling programs, national skills development)
  • Workers’ rights (labor standards including freedom of association and collective bargaining)


Create place-based investment and regional development plans: short- and long-term plans and positive visions for sustainable development, aligned with national plans.


  • Targeted industrial policy (tax incentives, subsidies, investment guarantees)
  • Adaptation and resilience plans
  • Infrastructure investment
  • Needs assessment and alignment with long-term plans, including assessment of skills and education
  • Environmental remediation and restoration


Encourage decarbonization: plans aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals and 1.5/2°C Paris Agreement targets.


  • Long-term decarbonization strategies and interim targets
  • Fossil fuel subsidy reform and reallocation
  • Energy efficiency programs (building retrofits, appliance standards, building codes, energy benchmarking)


Mobilize climate finance at scale: catalyze sufficient investment to meet the climate finance challenge.


  • Dedicated just transition funds
  • Blended finance
  • Financial sector reforms (fiduciary responsibility, disclosure requirements, public procurement adjustments)
  • Green bonds and sustainability bonds

The paper explores these elements by examining two essential aspects of just transition policies: gender-responsive policies and place-based investment. Gender and social equity are complex aspects of just transitions, and it is important to analyze gender in the context of energy transitions to identify strategies that can promote socially equitable outcomes. Gender-responsive policies can help to address women’s socio-economic vulnerabilities, enhance women’s energy access, and leverage their capacity to drive positive change. Another important element of just transitions is place-based investment. Efforts to phase out coal production or eliminate emissions-intensive industry will create acute challenges for certain regions in terms of employment, wealth, and social well-being. This paper examines the potential impact of place-based or regionally focused investment in just transitions planning.

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from the Resource Library

Supporting Just Transitions in South Africa: A Case Study

This case study explores key dimensions of just transitions and draws lessons from the Climate Investment Funds (CIF)’s contributions to the energy transition, the expansion of renewable energy, and the implications for workers and communities in South Africa.


This case study explores key dimensions of just transition in South Africa, which has a long engagement with the concept and was one of the first countries to include an explicit reference to just transitions in its Nationally Determined Contribution. The case study reflects on the contributions of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), through its partner multilateral development banks, to the energy transition in South Africa.

The document uses the just transitions framework developed by the CIF and the Center for Strategic and International Studies to explore issues of social inclusion and distributional justice in South Africa’s energy transition. It provides a broader review of South Africa’s energy transition implications for national planning, and discusses social inclusion, financing, Covid-19 recovery programs, skills development and geographic disparities.

Just Transition Concepts and Relevance for Climate Action

This report explains the origins and evolution of just transitions, and offers a framework to represent the range of definitions as well as underlying ideologies and approaches.


This report outlines the origins of just transitions in the US labor movement, the later adoption of the concept by the environmental and climate justice movements, and its role in international climate negotiations. The authors note that the term “just transitions” evokes a range of responses, from enthusiasm to confusion to outright skepticism, suggesting the need for a clear definition.

The paper presents a framework to capture the range of definitions and interpretations of just transitions. One key dimension is scope, including both distributional impacts—or who and what is affected in transitions—as well as intention (the ideological preference between reforming or transforming existing political and economic systems through just transitions). The other dimension in the framework is social inclusion, or the range of recognition and procedural justice for various groups. The framework does not seek to identify a single “correct” definitions of just transitions, but rather captures a range of ideologies and approaches to the concept.

A final section of the paper suggests that the next stage of just transitions work will be to advance solutions and to apply lessons learned. The authors list several priorities for future research including concrete tools and strategies, more case studies of developing countries, more effective social engagement, and new financing methods.

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.

Guiding Principles & Lessons Learnt for a Just Energy Transition in the Global South

This report suggests eight principles for measuring justice dimensions of energy transition processes in developing countries and applies this rubric to twelve countries in the Global South.


This report discusses the various stakeholder narratives of “just energy transitions” and their claims to justice. The authors promote transformative alliances among these stakeholders to align their sustainable development strategies. They offer a set of eight principles to encourage and assess justice dimensions of energy transition processes in developing countries.

Using the proposed principles and their respective indicators, the authors evaluate twelve countries: China, India, Nepal, the Philippines, Vietnam, Fiji, Morocco, South Africa, Tanzania, Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Mexico. These countries were identified based on justice terminology within their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. Performance among these countries was generally strongest in terms of their ambitious targets regarding climate and the alignment of their NDCs with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. These countries generally scored lower with respect to the socioeconomic dimension—such as ensuring or fostering “decent work and resilience,” “social equity,” and “gender equality”—and even lower in regard to the political dimension.

The paper concludes that countries claiming to be pioneers of just energy transitions do not necessarily perform better in terms of the social and political dimension, nor do those who claim to be pioneers regarding justice necessarily lead when it comes to climate ambition. The authors offer recommendations specific to each of the twelve countries and conclude with broadly applicable policy recommendations to better apply justice to energy transitions.