Statement by Matilda Dimovska, UNDP Resident Representative at the launch event of World Bank report “Towards a Greener Economy in Uzbekistan”

November 4, 2022
Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan

Just Transition means greening the economy in a way that is as fair and inclusive as possible to everyone concerned, creating decent work opportunities and leaving no one behind. 

Evidence shows that indeed – managed well – green transition can be a powerful driver in creating green jobs, social justice, and eradicating poverty, all much needed in Uzbekistan.

But climate change and the policy responses to it raise new challenges for social justice, human rights, jobs and livelihoods that have to be addressed at all levels. 

Therefore, carefully targeted and proactive government and company policies are required to ensure a just transition for workers and communities and manage the trade-offs. 

The perception of just transition varies, but at its core, just transition is about a principle, a process and a practice. I will mention the critical elements:

  • Principle: As countries develop and implement their updated national climate pledges, there is a unique opportunity to embed the principle and process of just transition. Integrating just transition in the NDC design and implementation can increase social cohesion and the acceptability of NDC measures.
  • Process: Building a strong social consensus on the goal and pathways to sustainability through social dialogue is fundamental. When policies are underpinned by a consensus of all stakeholders including governments, employers, and workers, they are more likely to reach their objectives.
  • Practice: This includes institutional and policy arrangements that maximize climate action opportunities while minimize and manage any challenges. Part of it is development of social protection policies required for labour market adjustments and improvements in job quality and incomes, thus advances in equity and social inclusion. As well as investing in human capital, training, and education systems (upskilling and reskilling of workforce). Ideally, any NDC enhancement should be informed by an assessment of the employment impacts—positive and negative—as well as an indication of the measures that will be taken to ensure a Just Transition for workers.

Why is Just Transition important?

Applying just transition principles and process, implementing them through collective process is critical for broader public support and can enable deeper ambitions for accelerated climate action. 

According to the results of UNDP’s People’s Climate Vote, investing in green business and jobs is one of the most supported climate policies globally. There is broad support for an approach that not only cuts greenhouse gas emissions, but additionally raises GDP, creates jobs, and ensures a just and equitable future for all. And thus, contribute to poverty eradication and social inclusion. 

Indeed, that is the case: An ILO study estimates that transition to low-carbon, greener economies can create up to 60 million new jobs by 2030. While the International Renewable Energy Agency projects that, renewables only could employ more than 40 million people by 2050.

Uzbekistan is taking significant strides towards reducing its carbon footprint. A year has passed since Uzbekistan joined other 120 countries around the world and submitted increased ambition with the second Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Climate Agreement. 

Also, the Government developed a Green Growth Strategic Framework, which is about to be adopted in the coming days. The framework calls for a holistic and integrated approach. In addition to the six thematic priorities, it underlines the importance of applying just transition principles as cross-cutting. 

These are very important milestones for the country in combating climate change, protecting the environment, and the pathway to green transition.

But also, they give a unique opportunity for Uzbekistan to embed stronger the principles and process of just transition in the NDCs and strategies, and thus increase their acceptability.

For example, the revised NDC strengthens adaptation measures, particularly in agriculture. In the context of just transition - sectors such as agriculture and land-use require particularly increased attention, given higher dependance of people, particularly vulnerable. 

This is especially critical in the context of Uzbekistan. Climate change is particularly harsh on most vulnerable communities in Uzbekistan, including those in the Ferghana Valley and Karakalpakstan regions, making them more socially vulnerable than in other CA countries. As outlined in the report ‘these groups suffer twice the loss of income and consumption during drought and flood events compared to affected communities in neighboring countries”. 

It is also important to consider gendered impacts of green transition and ensure that women and other vulnerable populations benefit when economies are shifting to sustainable models, by providing an opportunity for improving their livelihoods and increasing their roles. 

Way forward: what is important for Just Transition?

a) Constant analysis of broader implication of green transition: Globally (in 120 countries) UNDP is supporting evidence based NDC policymaking by conducting quantitative & qualitative assessments of social, economic, and employment impacts of NDCs. Such assessments can help anticipate socio-economic impacts of NDCs and put in place social protection and capacity building measures to maximize job growth and minimize losses.

Here in Uzbekistan, UNDP supports the Government in modelling and assessing the socio-economic and environmental impact of potential reduction of fossil fuel subsidies for producers, as well as consumers, under different scenarios.  

b) Forward looking agility and ability: The need to invest in human capital, training, and education systems is well recognized in Uzbekistan. The Green Growth Strategic Framework points calls for - policies for training and skills development, labor mobility and suitably trained workforce, with new skills both for new emerging jobs and for evolving existing jobs (including retraining/ reskilling). Creation of green jobs is foreseen in sectors such as waste management, recycling, carbon footprint assessment, biofuel crop farming, and other environmentally friendly commercial activities.  But also, that fossil-fuel workers are at risk and their reskilling will be important. This is not straightforward: anticipation of trends of the fast-evolving markets, keeping the eye on long term trends and adjusting the measures / cursor are needed. 

c) Coherence and coordination: Implementation of the Green Growth Strategic Framework, and in general increased NDCs inclusive of just transition is now the task. Such comprehensive policies require multisectoral approach, involvement and coordination of policies and actions. Therefore, the role of the Ministry of Economic Development and Poverty Reduction in coordinating all these efforts of national institutions but also development partners and IFIs is so important for the final outcome. UNDP, together with the World Bank and AFD, supported such approach and is ready to continue.