Unpacking the Political Economy of

Fair, Green Transition

Fair, Green Transition

As countries move towards a green economy to avoid climate collapse and other environmental dead ends, it has become clear that the economic and social implications of a green transition – whether positive or negative - will be drastic: For example, when industries transform at the scale and speed required to stay within planetary boundaries, jobs will change or disappear, new health challenges and opportunities will arise, and education systems will need to adapt.   

UNDP-supported socio-economic impact assessment of countries’ green transition efforts show that negative green transition impacts are often distributed unevenly (e.g. affecting unskilled labour and women) and that decarbonizing strategies also come with new risks (e.g. increased demand for critical minerals or biofuels)  They illustrate that if conflicting economic, environmental, and social needs are not managed well, a green transition in any given country has the potential to jeopardize achievements on social justice and human rights and to question a society’s entire social contract 

Interestingly, while the socio-economic and environmental opportunities and challenges (the ‘what’) of a green transition are becoming clearer, there is much less guidance on how to go about them (the ‘how’). There is a sense that a whole-of-society and a systems approach is needed. In short, the governance needed to turn a green into a fair transition (or to even establish what ‘fair’ or ‘just’ means to people) is much less discussed and understood 

The topic of fair, green transitions is of shared concern for all of UNDP’s Signature Solutions. Exploring the governance dimensions of fair, green transitions in particular helps pursue the Strategic Plan’s three directions of change: it supports structural transformation, leaving no-one behind and building resilience.

      Country Case Studies on ‘Managing transformative energy transition policies: Governance needs, challenges, and opportunities’ 

      OGC, together with other key UNDP teams such as the Sustainable Energy Hub and the Climate Promise Team, are developing a set of case studies in order to (1) explore what effects major energy transition commitments and policies can have on governance systems (challenges), (2) illustrate what is required of governance systems and institutional frameworks to develop and implement major energy transition commitments and policies (needs), and (3) find ways to identify entry points to address governance weaknesses in the development and implementation of transformational energy transition commitments and policies (opportunities) 

        Governance Nexus Webinar Series: The Governance of Fair Green Transitions

        In June 2023, UNDP’s Global Policy Centre on Governance and Human Development Report Office had the pleasure to co-host a hybrid event that took a governance perspective to explore what collective action may be needed to manage a green transition so that it generates fair outcomes. As part of the webinar, we launched a short think piece on 'The Governance of Fair Green Transitions: Managing Complexity While Building Consensus' and invited key speakers to share their insights on the topic: Dr. Brian Mantlana from the Presidential Climate Commission of South Africa, Beatriz Reyes, an environmental engineer and climate activist of the NGO Jóvenes y Cambio Climático in Panama, and Dr. Christina Voigt, professor at the University of Oslo and Co-Chair of the Paris Agreement Implementation and Compliance Committee (PAICC). We discussed how the ECOSOC effective governance principles can help identify governance challenges and opportunities and what else may be needed to strengthen the governance of fair green transitions.