Just Transition is a vision-led, unifying and place-based set of principles, processes, and practices that build economic and political power to shift from an extractive economy to a regenerative economy. After centuries of global plunder, the profit-driven, growth-dependent, industrial economy – rooted in the myth of white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, consumerism, and ableism – is severely undermining the life support systems of the planet. An economy based on extracting from a finite system faster than the capacity of the system to regenerate will eventually come to an end—either through collapse or through our intentional re-organization. Transition is inevitable. Justice is not.
Democratize, Decentralize and Diversify
A Just Transition requires us to build a visionary, regenerative economy based on caring and sacredness of relationships to each other and the world upon which we depend. This calls for strategies that democratize, decentralize and diversify economic activity while we damper down consumption, and (re)distribute resources and power. Just Transition initiatives shift the economy from dirty energy to energy democracy, from funding highways to expanding public transit, from incinerators and landfills to zero waste, from industrial food systems to food sovereignty, from gentrification to community land rights, and from rampant destructive development to ecosystem restoration. Core to a Just Transition is deep democracy in which workers and communities have control over the decisions that affect their daily lives.
Just Transition strategies were first forged by labor unions and environmental justice groups who saw the need to phase out the industries that were harming workers, community health and the planet, while also providing just pathways for workers into new livelihoods. This original concept of Just Transition was rooted in building alliances between workers in polluting industries and fence-line and frontline communities. Building on that history, Movement Generation alongside the Climate Justice Alliance developed a Just Transition framework representing a set of aligned strategies to transition whole communities toward thriving economies that provide dignified, productive and ecologically sustainable livelihoods governed directly by workers and communities.
Just Transition Principles
The transition will not be smooth or without conflict. But the time has come to organize ourselves towards predicting and provoking crises, rather than simply responding to those that are thrust upon us by the inevitable implosion of a death-dependent economic order. The following are a set of principles that, when aligned together, can help us craft strategic interventions to realize a Just Transition.
What We Feed Grows
If all we do is fight against what we don’t want, we learn to love the fight and have nothing left for our vision but longing. But longing isn’t good enough. We must live into the vision by creating it and defending it. We must “Build the New” as a way to “Stop the Bad” —we must be both visionary and oppositional. This doesn’t mean we don’t resist, but we have to organize ourselves into applying our labor to meet our needs rooted in our cultures and visions.
If It's the Right Thing To Do, We Have Every Right To Do It
This is the principle that the basis of revolution is not simply a struggle for power; the basis of revolution is rights. It is when a people are organized enough to assert their rights, that the legitimacy of existing authority is tested. This includes asserting new rights, such as the Rights of Mother Earth. And the only way to assert rights is to exercise them. The only way to test whether we have the right to free speech is to exercise it. We can say that we have the right to housing, but it is only when we exercise that right and it butts up against the rules that infringe upon those rights in order to protect the enclosure of land do we challenge the legitimacy of existing authority to govern.
If We Are Not Prepared to Govern, We Are Not Prepared to Win
If It Is Not Soulful, It Is Not Strategic
Our vision nurtures our cultures, souls and spirits through song and ceremony, through practice and play. Our movements must be irresistible and rooted in the wisdom of our ancestries. We aim to create the culture that can hold us through both the best and hardest times—so that as we struggle, we do not need to seek respite via the trappings of consumerisms and the privileges of empire. This is how we heal from the crisis of disconnection. This is what it means to decolonize.
While the collapse of biological and cultural diversity is the crisis at hand, it is important to remember that we are not losing that diverse ecological knowledge and ancestral wisdom—we are lost from it. The knowledge resides in the relationship to soil, song and story. If we engage ourselves in the soil and our voices in the songs we will begin to find our way home. We will remember our way forward.
We offer this framework as a humble point of departure for folks interested in building collective vision and action towards Ecological Justice that does not separate humans from nature, or social equity from ecological integrity. *The evolution of our thinking has been an ongoing journey with hundreds of folks over many years from diverse movements. And we know that the politic will continue to develop and evolve. We invite you share your thoughts, feedback, experience,* and iterations with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more on Just Transition framework and strategies from MG and others:
- Read MG’s Just Transition Zine — more info below.
- Visit Climate Justice Alliance’s webpage on Just Transition
- Check out our Just Transition Framework Adaptations page that showcases powerful adaptations of our Just Transition framework by different communities in various languages, creative formats, and sector-specific lenses.
Just Transition Zine
MG is proud to offer our zine: “From Banks and Tanks to Cooperation and Caring: A Strategic Framework for a Just Transition”! Published in 2017 and offered in English and Spanish, it is a 32-page long training tool that offers an in-depth look at the Just Transition framework and strategies. It is full of visuals, stand-alone sections, and curriculum ideas.
This website version is the easiest to read online.
Download the printer-ready version, should you want to print some immediately for an upcoming training or gathering.
Order Hard Copies
We also accept orders for shipments of hard copies of the zine. If you want to place a bulk order of hard copies, please email info@movementgeneration.
For bulk orders, we request a $1-10 donation per zine, depending on capacity and need. Send us an email with your request and to receive more details.
Since publishing the Just Transition framework in 2017, dozens of organizations and coalitions have designed adaptations of what Just Transition means in their regions and communities. From Alaska to South Africa, from campaign strategies to coloring books, and through many different languages, the Just Transition strategic framework has been used in creative and powerful ways to get communities organized and build power to meet their needs. Check out some of these Just Transition Adaptations and get inspired!
Kohtr’elneyh Remembering Forward Zine + Visioning Guide For Families
An “Alaskanized” downloadable zine and workbook that center Indigenous knowledge and relationships. Produced by Native Movement in partnership with the Alaska Just Transition Community
Just Transition Framework: Chinese and Lao Translated Versions
Chinese and Lao translations of the Just Transition framework diagram, translated and used by the Asian Pacific Environmental Network with their Chinese and Lao/Khmu leaders to discuss the Just Transition Framework and strategies.
Just Transition Zine for groundWork’s Environmental Justice School for Activists (South Africa)
A beautifully illustrated adaptation of the Just Transition zine makes references to the local South African context, notably the extractivist industries and the experiences of people who live on the fencelines of polluting industries.
Submit your Adaptation
If your organization or coalition has designed an adaptation of the Just Transition Framework or Zine, we’d love to see it and publish it here. Please fill out the form below to submit your materials to share.