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What is "Just Transition"?

Workers and Communities in Transition: Report of the Just Transition Listening Project

The report synthesizes lessons from more than 100 listening sessions with labor and community groups to gather their perspectives on transitions as well as identifies how coalitions have come together and what pathways exist to a just future.


The findings of this report are derived from more than 100 in-depth listening sessions, including qualitative interviews and focused discussion groups with workers and community members from across the United States, which were conducted in 2020. The sessions, typically lasting an hour or more, involved workers from dozens of unionized and nonunionized industries; union leaders; members of frontline communities, including environmental justice communities, communities of color, and Indigenous communities; along with leaders from labor, environmental justice, climate justice, and other community organizations.

The aim of the sessions was to capture the voices of the workers and community members who had experienced, are currently experiencing, or anticipate experiencing some form of economic transition. The report suggests how past transitions, driven by market forces, corporate entities, and shortsighted public policies, often leave workers and communities largely behind, with little to no support. As such, community trauma has gone unrecognized and unaddressed for years.

The report identifies several themes that have emerged through these sessions, including a picture of what transition entails; how coalitions have come together, particularly those including labor and environment groups; how common vision and strategies for change are built; and what pathways to a just future exist. The report also highlights how individual and collective understandings of transitions range widely, according to type of work, class, gender, race, age, political ideology, previous experiences with environmentalists or the climate justice movement, and relationships with unions and the community. The report affords insightful reading and covers recommendations for policymakers; labor and movement organizations; and future research to fill in the identified gaps in knowledge, including understanding how sectoral transitions such as automation, digitalization, hybrid working, and health care could be done in an equitable manner.

Just Transition’ – Just What Is It?: An Analysis of Language, Strategies, and Projects

Based on interviews with a variety of stakeholders, this report explains the concept of just transition, including its origins, evolution, usage, perception, and applications.


This report aims to explain the concept of a just transition, tracing the concept from its origins during the planned reconversion to a peacetime economy after World War II to its application in response to environmental protection policies, its spread in the labor and environmental movements, and its recent adoption and evolution in climate justice.

The findings in this report are based on seventeen interviews conducted in 2015 and 2016 with representatives from activist networks, grassroots organizations, organized labor, and environmental groups. These interviews provide insight into how the range of stakeholders use and perceive the term, how these different concepts entail different policy solutions, and the types of relationships that are developing as stakeholders pursue just transitions.

Despite the growth of the concept and language of a just transition, the authors suggest that there are few examples of just transitions in practice. This report provides several, mostly local-level examples of just transitions programs. It concludes with research questions for future dialogues and a call for communities and groups to contribute to a shared vision of how to achieve just transitions.