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Approaches to Transition

This paper is part of the NESC work on transitions and looks in particular at how transitions are approached elsewhere and the range of perspectives at play.

The paper reviews the practical tools and conceptual approaches being used to support transition, with particular focus on international experience in managing downside risks that disproportionately affect specific cohorts of workers or communities. It provides  an improved understanding of the practical ways and strategies that support and build resilience for those most challenged by Ireland’s low-carbon and digital transitions.

There is considerable research and policy interest in this area, with governments seeking to both protect against risks and maximise economic and social opportunities. No single approach or blueprint exists in managing transitions at the scale, speed and complexity that they are bringing already.

There are some fundamental questions about the role of society in shaping transitions and how particular groups and sectors can be impacted. A key part of the paper is outlining what a just transition approach entails.  Applying principles of a just transition is gaining momentum as a possible lens and yardstick to examine and respond to the ethical considerations that arise.

However, evidence of their successful application is not yet clear and many aspects remain aspirational. Nevertheless, as outlined in this paper, there are compelling arguments indicating that the benefits of adopting a proactive, just and inclusive approach outweighs the potential risks of taking a passive, wait-and-see approach in which the impacts on vulnerable workers, regions and communities, as well as the wider societal impacts, could negatively affect the future success of transition.

While this work was undertaken before the current health crisis, the insights will be relevant as the transition continues. It is important to acknowledge that, while other, unexpected events and challenges will affect how these transitions unfold, governments require strategies and tools to proactively and reflexively plan and manage transformative change.



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