"Just Transition – A Global Perspective": Special Issue of the Austrian Journal of Development Studies

Dimanche 15 Mai 2022, 23:59 CEST
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15 Mai 2022 - 23:59

Just Transition – A Global Perspective

Special issue editors: Julia Eder, Halliki Kreinin, Florian Wukovitsch

The looming ecological crisis calls for urgent action. However, the promotion of structural change in favour of ecological sustainability does not only affect the economic structures of production but also the workers employed in the sectors that need to be transformed, shrunk or to be phased out entirely. Thus, it has become a concern to avoid increasing social inequality and deprivation as well as the creation of laggard regions that could go hand in hand with such developments. While it is clear for many researchers and involved actors that a just transition will require structural change and will cause the transformation of the transnational division labour, how this will affect countries in the Global South is currently understudied.

Just Transition is a concept describing ambitions to secure workers’ rights and livelihoods when economies are shifting to low-carbon and more circular and sustainable pathways. While being an important reference point of the trade union movement, the term has been taken up by international organisations such as ILO or, in Europe, the European Commission.

As the extraction of fossil fuels, energy generation, and manufacturing need to be restructured in order to achieve the international climate goals, workers employed in these sectors need support in several ways. This includes, first of all, social dialogue and the democratic consultation of social partners, the affected employees and broader civil society, along with social protection and active labour market policies. Second, there is a need for (public) investment in low-emission activities that help enhance the quality of living and offer decent workplaces, such as in public transport or education and care. Third, local and regional economic diversification plans together with progressive industrial, research and innovation policies can support the creation of new jobs and stabilize affected communities. Fourth, as also international supply chains will change in the course of economic restructuring, challenges for workers and other oppressed groups in the Global South and perspectives of inter- or transnational solidarity need to come into focus.

The trade union debate refers equally to distributive and procedural forms of justice but also to recognition, even if implicitly. Climate action will only be successful if social impacts are considered holistically, in a historical perspective – this pertains to climate justice and global conditions of production as well as past and present power and dependency relations. From a more general point of view, the core question is: How can the costs of climate change and climate policy be distributed in a fair and respectful way – among humanity, in space and time but also with regard to other species and the environment?

This special issue of the Austrian Journal of Development Studies aims to unite different approaches to just transitions with an explicitly progressive stance, adopting a global perspective. We ask for contributions discussing the role of work in the transition to low-carbon and more sustainable economies, outlining:

• what shapes just transition approaches (may) take today;
• what their components must be to foster societal progress;
• how they could be implemented in the various regions of the world and how they might affect other regions of the world (e.g., countries of the Global South) and
• what can be done so that they do not reproduce or reinforce uneven and dependent development.

Which possibilities do currently exist for developing low-carbon policies or “Green New Deals” that serve the interests of workers and society rather than those of (transnational) capital? Which different approaches can we identify in academia and in civil society, where do different actors identify potential for intervention, and which coalitions or governance designs are needed therefore? In what matter and how should the state intervene to mediate the interests of different groups/class factions in society? What is the significance of global value chains and which restrictions for (global) just transitions might result out of upheaval in international trade?

We appreciate contributions on:

• the role of labour in the transition to low-carbon economies;
• country case studies on the governance of just transitions;
• politics of scale (appropriate scales for implementing just transition measures);
• the significance of just transition approaches for a successful and widely accepted socio-ecological transformation;
• the dimension of development and specific challenges for countries of the Global South (role of just transition in supranational, national and regional development strategies; just transition and catch-up development; just transition and uneven and dependent development);
• workers’ participation and economic democracy;
• inter-/transnational solidarity (role of trade unions, progressive parties and governments, but also individuals in the core states to support just transitions in the Global South);
• relation to other policy fields (how does just transition interact with industrial policy, infrastructure policy, education policy, social policy etc.?)

Schedule: We invite authors from any discipline to send an abstract (maximum 300 words) including title, author(s) and institutional affiliation to cfp@mattersburgerkreis.at by May 15th, 2022. By May 31st, 2022, we will invite authors to write their texts, and inform all others about our decision. The deadline for the submission of full articles (40,000 characters, including spaces) is September 30th, 2022. After editorial assessment and double-blind review, corrections and proof-reading, the special issue will be published in print and online in autumn 2023.


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