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The green transition must come with efforts to close the social gaps

The pandemic brought with it increasing inequalities, economic turmoil and a shadow pandemic of violence against women and so will the climate and nature crisis if we fail to act. At the same time, people have to make the changes necessary to halt climate change and biodiversity loss. How do we come together for nature and how do we make sure that the green transition is socially just? The solution lies in seeing the whole picture and tackling social and ecological issues simultaneously all across society, writes member of the board Annika Lepistö

Picture from a climate strike in Melbourne. Photo: Unsplash.

The causal link between ecological, environmental and social issues takes many forms. An IUCN study found that competition over increasingly degraded and scarce resources can exacerbate gender based violence. An Oxfam report found that the richest one percent of the world is responsible for more than twice as much carbon pollution as the 3.1 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity. It is apparent that the nature and climate crisis causes the most harm to the ones that have done the least to contribute negatively and that in itself is a huge social justice issue.

We are in need of a green transition, but there are social risks that may arise from transitioning. Closing the social gaps, or increasing equality and social justice, must be part of the action plan for a green transition. Responsibility from those in power and involvement are key factors for accomplishing social justice during the transition and some actions should be:

  • Ensuring representation and involvement of different groups, such as youth, women, indigenous people, disabled people, grass root communities, etc. Enabling concrete ways for people to take part in decision-making.

  • Monitoring impacts of decisions. Who benefits from decisions, are benefits shared equally and what negative effects arise?

  • Counteracting negative effects. Implementing social programmes, ensuring financing for vulnerable groups and enabling persistence for the transition and for social justice

Youth are being included in negotiations on the global level, for example when it comes to biodiversity. The Global Youth Biodiversity Network is the youth constituency of the United Nations Convention On Biological Diversity and their focal point Christian Schwarzer has said this about social justice and halting biodiversity loss:

"It means leaving nobody behind. This is not a development model that aims at positioning us against other sectors. We share this platform of life"

A just transition towards halting the loss of biodiversity was discussed during an online debate arranged by the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Nordic Youth Biodiversity Network (NYBN) & the Nordic youth advisory group. The panel included youth and high level experts, such as the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema. The discussion offered a global and a Nordic perspective.

As a member of the board of ReGeneration 2030 & NYBN I took part and stressed the need to close the social gaps during the transition, as well as to move towards sustainable production and consumption. The Nordic countries can and should take the lead through ambitious inputs in global negotiations, a just green transition and through transforming production and consumption to become more sustainable.

I believe that we cannot have a green transition without having social justice. To accomplish some change on a regional and global scale, our consumption and production must become more fair for workers, as well as for nature. When nature and people suffer, the economy suffers. To end this downward spiral solutions for nature and people must be mainstreamed across all sectors, in all of society.

"We failed to reach our goals for 2020 to get closer to living in harmony with nature, we cannot fail again."

Author: Annika Lepistö, Member of the board & local coordinator


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