In 2020, South Africa’s president established the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC), with a primary mandate of overseeing and facilitating a just transition in the country. The PCC is unique in its position, design and means of operation. First, the PCC is situated within The Presidency, which provides the commission with an important cross-cutting role across all government departments and plans, thus elevating the just transition imperative. Second, the PCC comprises commissioners from all major stakeholder groups — government, business, labor, civil society and traditional leadership — which supports its approach of building consensus to advance the transition. Finally, the PCC operates transparently, with all meetings, events and workshops broadcast to all; and with a commitment to deep, genuine and continuous engagement with communities.

This model of operation was put into practice through the design of the Just Transition Framework, which was adopted by South Africa’s Cabinet in August 2022. The framework sets out a shared vision, principles, policies and governance arrangements to give effect to the transition — all intending to bring coordination and coherence to just transition planning in the country. The speed at which the document was embraced in national policy and by all stakeholders was largely due to the inclusive process that was followed in its development, built on years of evidence and research. In developing the just transition framework, the PCC took the following actions:

  • Deepened the evidence base around an effective and equitable transition and commissioned a series of policy briefs on key issues relevant to the transition
  • Conducted a series of public workshops and events on these issues, incorporating views of government ministers, civil society, business, labor, traditional leadership, youth and the research community, among others, to form a comprehensive view of the major topics for a just transition framework
  • Embarked on a series of in-person community consultations to better understand the needs of communities that are being impacted in the shift away from fossil fuel-based economies, ensuring that the framework is tailored to those most impacted by the changes that lie ahead; this process included significant engagement with municipalities and traditional leaders in affected regions
  • Commissioned a series of essays from experts in different fields (academia, business, labor and civil society), exploring what it will take to achieve a just transition in South Africa
  • Consulted widely with workers, communities, small businesses and social partners in the country in 2021–22 on the framework, allowing impacted groups to discuss their own development pathways and livelihoods
  • Invited written comments of the draft just transition framework, where written submissions were received from many stakeholder groups, including youth, labor, business, financial institutions, all spheres of government, nongovernmental organizations and academia

The significant and genuine engagement in the development of the Just Transition Framework helped build support for the transition and improve public trust and acceptance for the difficult work and decisions that lie ahead.

Realizing Net-Zero Emissions: Good Practices in Countries

This case study is part of a working paper outlining a "Framework for Net-Zero Climate Action," emphasizing outcomes, enabling action areas, and actions crucial for achieving net-zero emissions. It showcases real-world examples of countries implementing these strategies, offering valuable insights for others.

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