ILO urges global collaboration for a just transition amid climate change challenges

A new resolution and conclusions concerning a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all were adopted at the International Labour Conference.

News | 26 June 2023
GENEVA (ILO News) – During the first two weeks of June, more than 5000 representatives from Governments, Employers’ and Workers’ organizations came to Geneva for the 111th International Labour Conference. One of the outcomes of the Conference is a strong unanimous endorsement of the ILO just transition mandate and the need for swift and concerted action to address the multifaceted challenges posed by environmental and climate change.

Meeting room scene from the 111th Session of the International Labour Conference.
Specifically, the General Discussion on a Just Transition focused on the concept of "just transition", emphasizing the importance of promoting environmentally sustainable economies in a way that is inclusive, by creating decent work opportunities, reducing inequality and by leaving no one behind. The delegates acknowledged that the transition to a greener and more sustainable future will have profound implications for jobs and livelihoods, and therefore the conclusions both endorse the ILO Guidelines for a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all (2015) as well as a reinvigorated framework for action. Such a framework covers the social dimension of environmental and climate change broadly through four supportive elements; namely: (i) promoting inclusive, sustainable and job-rich economies; (ii) advancing social justice; (iii) managing the process of just transition; and (iv) financing a just transition.

The Committee provided an opportunity to share best practices and success stories from different countries and sectors. Delegates highlighted the significance of social dialogue and tripartite cooperation in shaping effective climate policies and facilitating just transitions. By involving governments, employers and workers' organizations in decision-making processes, countries can foster consensus-building, establish sustainable policies and promote social justice in the face of climate challenges. The Conclusions also outline that governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations should consult with affected communities, including indigenous and tribal peoples, youth and other relevant stakeholders.

As the world faces the existential threat of climate change, the Conclusions reiterate the ILO and its tripartite constituents’ commitment to tackling environmental and climate challenges while safeguarding the rights and well-being of workers. Likewise, the Conclusions reaffirm the ILO mandate and leadership role in advancing just transition in the multilateral system. Specifically, the conclusions outline the need to “reinforce its leadership role, as the only tripartite specialized UN agency representing governments, employers and workers, in advancing a just transition in the multilateral system […] and proactively promoting the Guidelines for a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all in all relevant fora".

By fostering collaboration and knowledge exchange, the ILO will aim to assist in the development and implementation of just transition policies in line with the ILO Guidelines for a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all as well as the newly adopted Conclusions on Just Transition.

Key outcomes of the Resolution and Conclusions on Just Transition

  • Urgent action to advance just transition is imperative to achieving social justice, decent work, and poverty eradication. The Conclusions are clearly linked to the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals, and the ILO must take international leadership in the multilateral system to advance just transition, particularly in the UN climate change processes.
  • The Conference endorsed the ILO Guidelines for a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all as the central reference for policy-making and a basis for action. The conclusions reaffirm the ILO mandate and leadership in advancing a just transition in the multilateral system including in the UN climate processes.
  • The nine policy areas of the Guidelines were reaffirmed, and new importance was given to financing, gender-responsive policies, links to human rights, migration, indigenous and tribal peoples, apprenticeships, among others.