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International Labour Conference calls for urgent action on just transition

news Press Release 21 Jun 2023

21 June 2023, Geneva and Bonn – The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) welcomed the adoption of a resolution on just transition at the International Labour Conference (ILC).

The new resolution agreed by workers, governments and employers adds to pressure on governments involved in UN climate negotiations to make progress on commitments to a Just Transition Work Plan at COP28 held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in November.

However, the UN climate talks held in Bonn at the same time as the ILC failed to make serious progress on commitments to a Just Transition Work Programme. Governments have been put on notice that negotiations must continue with workers and their unions so agreement can be reached at COP28.

The ILC resolution adopted on 16 June 2023 highlighted the urgent need for action on just transition, and include ten critical elements:

  • A leadership role for the International Labour Organization (ILO), as the UN agency representing governments, employers, and workers, in advancing a just transition in the UN climate talks.
  • Just transition based on effective social dialogue, respect for fundamental principles and rights at work and in accordance with international labour standards.
  • Just transition for all countries, all sectors and for the formal and informal economy.
  • Industrial and/or sectoral policies to facilitate just transition, and investment in sustainable infrastructure and quality public services.
  • Inclusive and sustainable trade and investment frameworks, value chains and supply chains that contribute to a just transition and decent work.
  • Full, productive, and freely chosen employment and decent work as a core objective, and comprehensive social protection systems.
  • A strong gender dimension and measures to protect all workers, paying due attention to youth, women, and vulnerable people.
  • Consult with affected communities, including indigenous and tribal peoples, and establish an ILO mechanism for dialogue with indigenous and tribal peoples to acquire knowledge and develop a roadmap for a just transition.
  • Urgent implementation of occupational safety and health measures for all workers impacted by climate-related risks and extreme weather events.
  • Public and private financial flows and public procurement aligned to just transition objectives.

The ILO’s 2015 Guidelines for a just transition were endorsed as the central reference for policymakers. The tripartite body called for the implementation of just transition to be accelerated.

“Governments, employers and workers at the ILO have set out important markers on implementing just transition,” said ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton. “The urgency to protect workers and their communities from the dangers of climate change has been recognised by the ILC, as has the importance of a strong workers’ voice to drive meaningful climate action.”

This is a model that governments negotiating in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) need to follow.

“We need a Just Transition Work Plan to make just transition for the workforce a reality. At COP28 we should be talking about concrete details for implementation, not wrangling over what just transition is or kicking it down the road again. And in particular, we need agreement that the work programme will cover a just transition for the workforce for all sectors in all countries, that it will link with the ILO framework on just transition. Consultation with workers and other key stakeholders must be built in,” said Cotton.

Transport unions will be taking the demand for investment in sustainable transport, just transition and emissions reductions to governments and employers ahead of COP28 in the UAE.