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Just Transition: What Will Businesses Gain?

Transition. This word has been around for a while, for humanity has had many transitions—the industrial revolution, the digitization of the workplace, the migration to the cloud, and the list goes on. However, the UN Global Compact (UNGC) has posted a thought-provoking question: “Have the transitions we had so far been “just”?”


According to the UNGC, "Just Transition" refers to the simultaneous addressing of the three dimensions of sustainability—environmental, social, and economic—in any process of development. This is where businesses come in. Sharan Burrow, a UNGC panelist, and the International Trade Union Confederation General Secretary stated that holistically developing these three dimensions requires the private sector’s influence, capital, and human resources. Regarding the economy, creating a just transition can be done by guaranteeing job security with training programs and economic prosperity that garner employees’ trust. Afterward, firms can address the environmental aspect by tackling climate actions and issuing courses about climate savings actions. For social causes, they could spend resources to build their communities and help them grow in an endeavor to create inclusive growth.


The aforementioned are some methods of creating a just transition. However, executives might still wonder why they have to do all this. The answer is simple: our environment is more fragile than ever, which has changed people's attitudes. As a result, environmental actions are among the most critical areas that require immediate attention through businesses' promotion of a transition that benefits all. In a figure cited by Ms. Burrow, 3 out of 4 workers in a survey wanted companies to be more transparent in their climate practices. She also stated that companies worldwide spend roughly 80–90 billion dollars annually on sustainability audits but hardly take action on such reports. Therefore, many players, from the workforce to the government and consumers, have been demanding more action. Apart from that, many people are becoming intolerable toward large-scale conglomerates. This is especially true for those in the fossil fuel industry, which "has all the resources necessary to make changes but chooses to do nothing.”

Lastly, Ms. Burrow noted that, though CEOs come and go, it is essential to realize that consumers care deeply about the environment, social progress, and economic well-being. As such, taking action to create a just transition now will be the key to a company's survival. This is true both from the short-term (winning people's opinions) and long-term (creating a sustainable environment to continue sustaining the company) perspectives.

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