JET ROUNDTABLE REPORT: Raise the Game for Just Energy Access and Transition to Leave No One Behind
01 August 2023
The UN in South Africa hosted a high-level roundtable meeting in Pretoria on 5 July around the theme “Raising the Game and Acting Now on Just Access and Transition to Energy to Leave No One Behind”. The roundtable sought to get a mutual understanding together with aligned action, across sectors and stakeholders, of the JUST component of the energy transition. The roundtable included the participation of government, private sector, national and international development partners, community-based entities, think tanks and the UN to discuss the impacts and benefits of the transition so as to leave no one behind.
In summary, almost every participant highlighted that the journey towards a sustainable, green, and equitable energy future is not straightforward – as a roundtable participant remarked, the JET in South Africa is going “to be a long, difficult and challenging process.” To ensure it meets its true aspirations, there must be space at the table for all stakeholders: governments, private sector, communities, academia, individuals, alike. All stakeholders have a role to play. There is a need for solidarity and partnership, and to support and accompany a process that is South African owned and led. Everybody should strive to minimize harm and amplify the gains. The transition must be just and inclusive which means the urgent prioritization, protection and empowerment of those most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and the energy transition. The message is that all stakeholders must continue to find solutions to invest in reskilling and upskilling programs for workers currently employed in the fossil fuel industry to ensure they can find meaningful employment in the new energy economy. Moreover, a need to foster innovation and technology development is critical. This will not only help achieve sustainability goals but also stimulate economic growth and job creation. Private sector participation and investment in renewable energy projects are urgent. In acknowledging the claim made at the roundtable and elsewhere, that the grant component of finance offered to date by international partners have been too little if the transition is to have any chance to be just, promises and indications were made that more grants will be offered. The UN, for its part, indicated availability, readiness and expertise – if appropriately funded – to scale up consultation, advocacy and convening – and to programmatic work on engaging and involving communities so that they are part of the JUST energy transition and access journey.