The climate emergency has arrived, today not tomorrow - it is already hurting societies and economies around the world. We need to direct more support to the countries and people most at risk. This means that sustainable investments must leave no one behind.
Two of the most important terms to advance social inclusion as we fight climate change are “just transition” and “just resilience.” Because they acknowledge the uneven distribution of the impacts of the climate emergency on people and places and the necessary steps to respond to it around the world.
Just transition means that we provide new jobs and opportunities to people and communities that are affected most by climate policies such as the closures of coal mines and fossil fuel power plants to decarbonise our societies. Just resilience addresses the need to scale up activities in response to the already inevitable climate change in countries and in support of people that bear the brunt of climate change impacts due to their geographical location or socioeconomic status.
Hundreds of millions of people and communities who cannot shape climate mitigation and adaptation policies, responses and investments, still need to benefit from the action taken to stop global warming or adapt to it.
Least developed countries, many of them in Africa, have some of the lowest greenhouse gas emissions, while being disproportionately impacted by climate change alongside small island development states and fragile countries.
The most marginalized people stand at risk of losing their homes and land and often live on the least desirable land that is most at risk to climate impacts such as mudslides, water contamination and flooding. Similarly, it is often the poorest people who are affected by job losses as governments incentivise industry to shift to economic activities that are more sustainable.
Equal treatment is a climate priority
So what can we do? We need integrated climate and social actions that acknowledge the uneven distribution of climate policies and climate change’s impacts to make the green transition a success for everyone and build resilience – because we need broad public support for them. Crucially, we must scale up international climate finance for adaptation and resilience to support countries and communities facing the highest risks from climate change, but we also need to scale up support for communities at risk of being left behind as we decarbonise our societies.
At the 28th United Nations climate conference in November and December this year, increasing the amount of finance that helps people, countries and business adapt to climate change and protect against the climate emergency is one of the priorities, as is just transition finance.
As the EU climate bank, the European Investment Bank is one of the largest lenders for climate action worldwide. Now, EIB Global, the development arm of the European Investment Bank is expanding the Bank’s just transition support that started within the European Union and is preparing to launch support for just transition and just resilience projects using the Bank’s financial, technical and knowledge instruments while building new partnerships worldwide.
Read more about climate-proofing Europe
A new strategy for the most vulnerable
To back a just transition, EIB Global supports workers affected by the green transition, finance projects in low-carbon infrastructure, energy efficiency, renewable energy, the development of small and mid-sized companies, education, training, and retraining, as well as environmental rehabilitation.
In doing so, EIB Global is supporting Just Energy Transition Partnerships, for example in South Africa and Senegal, and is working alongside Team Europe initiatives to end coal-based energy production. EIB Global will assist workers and communities affected by the closure of fossil fuel plants or activities involving fossil fuel extraction.
In addition, from 2024 onwards, EIB Global, as the first international financial institution, will focus its just resilience support on least developed countries, fragile and conflict affected states, and small island developing states. Moreover, EIB Global will target climate adaptation actions involving or benefitting those depending on natural resources and ecosystems for their livelihoods, indigenous people, women and non-binary, young people, migrants, and other groups bearing unequal climate change burdens across the globe. EIB Global will take a more integrated approach to climate adaptation and social inclusion when looking at the impact we’re having.
One example is EIB Global’s investment in the Urban Resilience Fund so-called TURF. Mauritania, one of the world’s least developed and fragile countries, bears the brunt of climate change. TURF will protect Nouakchott, the capital city, and its residents from coastal erosion and flooding while developing activities for the benefit of local communities supporting a just resilience. The fund will benefit people living in these areas, allowing easier access to the fishing port and the creation of recreational and commercial as well as industrial zones.
In addition, on the small island developing state of São Tomé and Príncipe, which is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts, EIB Global is helping to improve the resilience of the water distribution network, but also connects a further 25 000 people, who currently do not have direct access. Households connected to the water network will no longer have to collect water elsewhere, freeing families – usually women and girls – from a time-consuming chore.
Decarbonising our economies and making them climate resilient must happen in a socially responsible way or it will not happen. I call on our partners to join us in this crucial endeavour to back climate action projects that leave no one behind.
Read more about the EU Bank climate journey