side event just transition cop28

6 December 2023, Dubai, United Arab Emirates: James Bhagwan of the Pacific Conference of Churches speaks at a side-event entitled Faiths for Jusst Transition: Bottom-up and Systemic Approaches from Affected Communities at the United Nations climate summit COP28. 


Titled "Faiths for a Just Transition: Bottom-Up and Systemic Approaches from Affected Communities," the event featured diverse voices from Africa, Europe, the Pacific, and the USA.

The gathering shared firsthand experiences from churches in Malawi, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Sweden, Fiji, and the USA, illustrating their pivotal role in fostering a just transition. The event spotlighted the meaning of a just transition from the lens of local communities, aligning with the International Labour Organization's definition: "A Just Transition means greening the economy in a way that is as fair and inclusive as possible, creating decent work opportunities and leaving no one behind."

Critical interventions included Julia Rensberg's impassioned plea for a rights-based transition, especially respecting Indigenous rights. Highlighting the adverse effects of projects like the Storheia and Roan Wind Park in Norway on Sami communities, ways of living and livelihoods. Climate change targets our spirit and heart. It is important to teach each other and protect that spirit because we have hope and faith,” concluded Rensberg.

Rev. James Bhagwan, Pacific Conference of Churches general secretary from Fiji, underscored the significance of local wisdom and spirituality in shaping a just transition. Bhagwan urged a decolonised approach, rejecting harmful initiatives like deep-sea mining, threatening Pacific communities, their livelihoods, and cultural practices. We should not rely on colonial definitions…we need to decolonise the transition…the Indigenous way is not an old-fashioned or outdated way,” stressed Bhagwan.

These interventions echoed a call for a transition that respects ecological and cultural diversity. As the discussions emphasised, a just transition should be green but also equitable, inclusive, and considerate of the sacred connection between communities and their environments.

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