Just Transition

Just Transition is a national framework for advancing systems change at every level of society that was articulated by the Oakland-based organization Movement Generation.

At Good Work Institute, we have designed our work to align with the following five Just Transition principles:

  • Advancing ecological repair
  • Democratizing communities, wealth, and work
  • Driving racial justice and social equity
  • Retaining and restoring cultural diversity
  • Relocalizing economic power

Just Transition is a movement that answers the question: How can we move from this unjust economy to one that serves all people equitably and heals the planet? How can we build and restore cultures that celebrate and nurture all people, and heal the racial injustice that has caused countless tragedies? How can we re- center the original meaning of “economy,” which is “the management of the home”?

The concepts of Just Transition emerged from the work of labor unions and environmental groups that were tackling the challenge of how to transition workers out of legacy, polluting industries, while protecting workers rights, creating sustainable jobs, and ensuring equitable wealth distribution. READ MORE

Our GWI Manifesto (English / Spanish) outlines the principles of Just Transition as we currently frame it, and provides an articulation of the values that hold Good Work. We also share our current understanding of each principle below, and invite you to join us for an upcoming Just Transition Primer workshop to learn more.

The principles of Just Transition

Advancing ecological repair

Climate change, biodiversity loss, environmental contamination, and ecosystem collapse are the result of disconnection and the accelerating, heedless exploitation of natural resources. The root word “eco”  comes from the Greek word “oikos” meaning “home”, and so we uplift the words “economy” and “ecosystem” as being rooted in place. We must restore our deep connection to nature and to our communities in order to be wise stewards of the resources we all share and bring balance back to our relationship with the Earth, our home. This requires work that engenders action, care, and healing in our places, fosters awareness and resilience, and addresses the causes and impacts of global warming.

Democratizing communities, wealth, and work

We all suffer the destructive effects of an extractive economy, society, and system of power. There is a deeply inequitable concentration of wealth, power, and resources that erodes our connection to ourselves, our places, and the natural world.  Fundamentally changing the dynamics of power means changing the way we engage with one another, to shift from a top down system where we hoard power out of a fear of scarcity to an open system where we share power because we believe in the potential of abundance. Acting from our interdependence, we will transform our relationships with one another and celebrate our work collectively.

Driving racial justice and social equity

Systemic racism and social inequities create injustices that harm all of us, but especially those who are being excluded because of their identity. These impacts show up in our communities in arenas including housing, healthcare, law enforcement, education, food systems, employment, and wealth. No society or community can claim to be healthy while it marginalizes any of its own members. Through the cultivation of informed social equity practices that support the building of our collective power to create communities that are resilient, just, inclusive, and equitable, we can dismantle systems of oppression and redress injustice and inequity.

Retaining and restoring cultural diversity

Cultural diversity is a deep reflection of evolved human creativity and wisdom partnering in sustaining life on earth. Like biodiversity, cultural diversity is essential to our long-term survival. Colonization and blind capitalism promote monocultures that lead to cultural disruption and destruction. Work that honors, retains, and restores life-affirming traditions and cultures indigenous to our places reconnects us to the web of interdependence that is vital to our common future.

Relocalizing economic power

Globalized production and consumption lead to pace, scale, and power imbalances that make it virtually impossible for shareholders and executives to prioritize ecological limits or social wellbeing. Relocalizing economic power is about building self-reliance, trust, and local resilience, so that our land, life, and labor are part of a balanced web of stable, interdependent relationships focused on taking care of our places and each other. What am I choosing to consume, where is it being produced, and what values are being reflected? How can we reorganize our communities to meet our own needs? Keeping money local brings rippling benefits to our communities, and builds our capacity to heal the harms of an unjust global economy.

Video Resource

How We Live: A Journey Towards a Just Transition

This film explores the principles of a transition away from the current extractive economy to a socially just, environmentally sustainable economy. With Bay Area activist, Gopal Dayaneni, as our guide, we focused on the three pillars of any economy – resources, work, and culture. (GWI’s Just Transition Primer workshop uses this short film as a discussion prompt.)

Just Transition Artworks

In 2019, Good Work Institute commissioned five artists from the Hudson Valley, all GWI Fellows, to create a work in response to one of the Just Transition principles, as part of the opening celebration for the Greenhouse. You can learn more and view images from these works here. Or please come visit us at the Greenhouse to see the artwork in person.