Africa Climate Summit: African trade unions call for a just transition

Keywords : Newsletters Climate Change And Environment Kenya

Nairobi, Kenya - Against a backdrop of climate challenges and global disruption, the Africa Climate Summit took place in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, from 4-6 September. At a time when Africa is facing the convergence of climate shocks, biodiversity loss, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the aftermath of the war in Ukraine, African trade unions seized the opportunity to present their positions and advocate for a just transition.

Under the auspices of the African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa), African trade unions issued a statement on 4 September calling for the Just Transition agenda to be integrated into the Summit’s discussions and conclusions.
The Just Transition agenda, strongly advocated by trade unions, aims to reconcile the fight against climate change with the preservation of workers’ and communities’ livelihoods and the promotion of social justice. This comprehensive approach is seen as crucial at a time when the African continent is facing complex challenges.

Here are the main demands of the African trade unions as expressed in the declaration:

1. Decent work and quality jobs: Trade unions insist on the creation of quality jobs as part of climate change policies. They demand that these jobs uphold labour rights and prioritise decent working conditions for all. This includes investments in skills development and training for workers to adapt to emerging green industries.

2. Social protection: Workers adversely affected by climate change must benefit from social protection measures, including income support, access to health care, education, and training to facilitate their professional reorientation. Trade unions are committed to protecting the most vulnerable workers and communities from the potential impacts of climate policies.

3 Worker Participation: Workers must be involved in the development and implementation of climate-related policies and projects, as they have valuable insights into the realities of their industries and communities.

4. Community Engagement: Local communities and stakeholders must be involved in decision-making on climate initiatives. Priority should be given to investment in sustainable infrastructure, green technologies and community resilience.

5 Gender equity: Trade unions demand that gender considerations be integrated into climate policies, recognising that women are often the most affected by the effects of climate change. They call for the empowerment of women through training, leadership and gender-sensitive policies.

6. Investment in green jobs: Trade unions call for substantial investment in green technologies, renewable energy and sustainable agriculture. They believe this investment will boost economic growth, create jobs and help preserve the environment.

7. Labour rights and just transition plans: Trade unions demand that labour rights be enforced and upheld in the context of climate policies, including the right to organise and the right to collective bargaining. Comprehensive just transition plans must be developed to outline pathways for affected workers and communities through the transition period.

8. Reskilling and Upskilling: Trade unions call for reskilling and upskilling programmes to equip workers with the skills needed for the transition to green industries by adapting to the needs of the labour market.

9. Support for impacted industries: The industries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change policies should be given targeted support and resources to help them transform their operations while safeguarding jobs.

10. Transparency and accountability: Trade unions call for transparency in the allocation of resources and the distribution of benefits resulting from climate initiatives. They also call for accountability mechanisms to be put in place to hold stakeholders accountable for meeting their just transition commitments.

African trade unions stand ready to work with all key stakeholders to advance these key demands.
By embracing a just transition agenda, Africa can build a future where workers, communities and the planet thrive together, despite the complex challenges it faces.

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