Case Studies

New Zealand – The Just Transitions Unit

Tags: Wellbeing Policy Design

In May 2018, the New Zealand Government set up the Just Transitions Unit in its Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, to foster a transition towards a low emissions economy that is “fair, equitable and inclusive”. The unit operates by creating partnerships in communities undergoing a major transition.

These partnerships have four objectives:

  1. Build an understanding of potential pathways to transform the economy to low emissions;
  2. Identify, create and support new opportunities, new jobs, new skills, and new investments that will emerge from the transition;
  3. Better understand how the transition might impact different communities, regions or sectors; and
  4. Make choices about how to manage these impacts in a just and inclusive way.

As part of its climate change programme, the Government stopped issuing new permits for offshore oil and gas exploration in 2018. That policy has a large impact on economic security in the Taranaki region, which has supported oil and gas exploration off the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand for several decades. The Just Transitions Unit has worked in that region, with a particular focus on its energy sector in a low emissions future.

It established a Taranaki Transition Lead Group of representatives drawn from central government, local government, Māori, business, the workforce, education and community organisations. This group facilitated 29 workshops around the region, including a specialised event for youth. It also sponsored a creative competition for students aged 7–18 to describe their vision for 2050; more than 140 took part. Material from this process fed into a draft Taranaki 2050 Roadmap, launched at a National Just Transition Summit hosted in the region in May 2019. The Summit involved 550 people from around the country. Kate Raworth (author of Doughnut Economics) was a keynote speaker.

Following the finalisation of the Roadmap in August 2019, the Lead Group then facilitated workshops to create eleven Transition Pathway Action Plans (TPAPs). The Energy TPAP, for example, agreed on the following Action Statement:

“Using our know how and resources we will transition to a world-leading energy eco-system that provides sustainable, secure and affordable low-emissions energy by 2050, while creating meaningful work, community well-being and prosperity for generations to come.”

Projects to implement the TPAPs are under way, including a project to build a Clean Energy centre in Taranaki.

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