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COP28: expectations from unions in Sub-Saharan Africa

7 December, 2023Sub-Saharan Africa's trade unions, including IndustriALL affiliates, are actively engaging in commitments to reduce carbon emissions and phase out fossil fuels. While advocating for sustainable development and sectoral transitions, they emphasize the need for a Just Transition, prioritizing socio-economic rights.

Challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa:

The region faces challenges in meeting industrialization demands, ensuring energy access, and addressing affordability, particularly for vulnerable households led by women and children. COP27 in Egypt raised expectations for addressing historical challenges, but outcomes fell short of trade unions' expectations.

Critical demands for COP28:

Trade unions emphasize the need for an official multistakeholder engagement platform, urging more balanced engagement between the Global North and South. They call for increased inclusion of trade unions in regional platforms and policy frameworks, such as the African Union Business Human Rights Policy, to ensure meaningful integration of labour's interests.

The Just Transition Work Program (JTWP):

Trade unions welcome the establishment of the Just Transition Work Program (JTWP), emphasizing the importance of identifying critical stakeholders. While some Sub-Saharan African countries involve civil society and trade unions in UNFCCC/COP country positions, their influence remains below desired levels. The discourse primarily focuses on environmental aspects, neglecting crucial labour-related structural issues.

Labour impact assessments and social protection:

Trade unions stress the need for comprehensive labour impact assessments, including job losses, creation, and restructuring, and a robust framework for reskilling. Insufficient social protection mechanisms pose risks to labour markets, compounded by the ongoing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for vocational and skills training reform.

Climate financing and loss and damage:

Climate financing, particularly loss and damage, is a critical agenda item for African trade unions. Disagreements persist regarding the World Bank's role, with concerns about transparency, consultation, and fund earmarking. Debates around debt cancellation or restructuring for developing countries, especially with the lack of a concise definition of 'Just Transition' in NDCs, raise concerns.

Expectations from COP28:

Trade unions anticipate a focus on the 'Global Stocktake,' comparing outcomes against the African position presented during COP27. Emphasis on climate finance, 'loss and damage,' addressing socio-economic challenges, and the North-South development dynamic will be paramount. Concerns persist about fair transition time frames and resource mobilization to meet Africa's development goals.