Health Care Without Harm is presenting its position paper on Just Transition, which includes the principles and positions that guide the conversation on this topic. The position paper was prepared in collaboration and is endorsed by Doctors for Clean Air and Climate Action (India), Healthy Energy Initiative (India), Lung Care Foundation (India), groundWork (South Africa), the RISE network (SE Asia), Health and Climate Network, and the Global Climate and Health Alliance.
A Just Transition is a process that aims to bring about a socially and environmentally responsible change, such as transitioning to a low-carbon economy. It typically involves supporting workers and communities that may be adversely affected by the transition and ensuring that they have the necessary resources and support to adapt to the changes. The goal of a Just Transition is to make the transition to a more sustainable future fair and equitable for all involved.
The definition of Just Transition in recent years has been shaped by the political and ideological leanings of multiple stakeholders. Labor movements look at a Just Transition that secures workers’ rights and jobs; environmental justice groups include whole communities impacted by fossil fuel in their description; multilateral institutions, investors, and transnational corporations see it through lenses of economics, financial support, and investment. However, a perspective on health is missing in all these approaches.
The COVID-19 pandemic has established the importance of health-based planning, making evident the co-dependence of ecological health and human well-being. The debilitating post-pandemic economic crisis has reiterated the interlinkage between economics, public health, and the environment.
The convergence speaks to the need for an urgent, deeper conversation that weaves health into the Just Transition fabric, in a way that centers on protecting and improving people’s health in a post-fossil fuel society. This document posits that health is the overlapping but missing link between the different movements’ dreams for Just Transition into an equitable world, and for healing people and the planet damaged by fossil fuels. We need Just Transition which has holistic health systems and accessible health care services at its core.