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  • Gordon Tveito-Duncan

Understanding the “Just Transition”: The GaiaLens Perspective

Updated: Apr 24

If you are interested in environmental sustainability and social justice, then you're likely already familiar with the term “just transition”. This concept has been around since the 1980s, originating from a movement by US trade unions to safeguard workers affected by new water and air pollution regulations. Recently, it has gained momentum, particularly in addressing climate goals, by introducing a more inclusive approach that brings all groups of society into the transition to a net-zero future.

Defined by the International Labour Organization (ILO), a just transition involves:

“Greening the economy in a way that is as fair and inclusive as possible to everyone concerned, creating decent work opportunities and leaving no one behind.” 

In simple terms, a just transition aims to make sure that the benefits of moving towards a green economy are shared fairly while also providing assistance to those who might face economic challenges—whether they're countries, regions, industries, communities, workers, or consumers.

In many places, poorly managed transitions have led to job losses, protests against green policies, and increased inequality. According to the ILO, the shift to a climate-neutral and circular economy could result in the loss of 80 million jobs but also the creation of 100 million new ones. This shows that various impacts on employment will occur, including new opportunities and changes to existing roles.

The Role of Investors in Balancing Environmental Sustainability with Social Justice

At this point, you might be curious about what all of this means for investors. Investors play a crucial role in shaping the trajectory of industries and companies, not just in terms of financial returns but also in influencing broader societal outcomes. When investors prioritise environmental improvements without considering the social implications, they risk neglecting important factors that can impact both communities and businesses.

For instance, in the case of shutting down a coal mine to reduce carbon emissions, the environmental benefits might seem clear-cut, but the social consequences can be significant. Workers who lose their jobs may face economic hardship, uncertainty about their future livelihoods, and challenges in transitioning to new employment opportunities. Moreover, the communities that depend on these industries may experience broader economic downturns, affecting local businesses and infrastructure.

So, while prioritising environmental sustainability is important, it's essential to also consider the social implications of these efforts. Focusing solely on environmental improvements without acknowledging the social impacts can lead to unintended negative consequences.

For investors, this means taking a balanced approach that considers both environmental and social factors. GaiaLens® offers a more comprehensive perspective by considering not only the environmental aspects but also the social and economic impacts of a company's actions. By considering these factors together, investors can make more informed decisions that align with sustainability goals while also promoting social responsibility.

GaiaLens: A New Approach to Sustainable Investing

GaiaLens offers a comprehensive suite of tools and insights to meet the evolving needs of institutional investors and financial services companies in navigating the complex landscape of sustainability. Through its intuitive dashboard interface, GaiaLens provides users with real-time access to a vast repository of ESG data. 

With a database spanning over 20,000 companies, GaiaLens® leverages cutting-edge AI algorithms to analyse and evaluate each company's ESG performance across multiple dimensions. This allows investors to make informed decisions that not only prioritise financial returns but also align with sustainability objectives and ethical considerations.

Impressively, GaiaLens goes beyond mere data aggregation by offering actionable insights and recommendations to guide investors in identifying opportunities for positive impact and mitigating risks associated with unsustainable practices. Whether it's assessing a company's carbon footprint, evaluating its labour practices, or scrutinising its corporate governance structure, GaiaLens provides a holistic view that allows investors to assess the full range of a company's sustainability performance.

GaiaLens recognises the importance of context-specific considerations, particularly in regions where industries reliant on environmentally harmful practices play a significant role in the economy. For instance, in countries like South Africa, where coal power remains a cornerstone of the energy sector, GaiaLens provides insights into the challenges and opportunities associated with transitioning to cleaner energy sources while protecting the welfare of affected communities and workers.

Finally, GaiaLens advocates for a nuanced approach to ESG standards, acknowledging the diverse socio-economic realities faced by different regions and the need for tailored solutions that address local challenges. By promoting a more inclusive and adaptable approach to sustainability, GaiaLens aims to empower investors to drive positive change while promoting long-term value creation for both investors and society as a whole.

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