Green Skills, Gender-Transformative approaches, Social Protection: Key to Just Transition – SB60 Side Event 

As negotiations on the Just Transition Work Program (JTWP) stalled at the recent Bonn climate conference, Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF) collaborated with GIZ, FES, and FEMNET to host an event titled “Just Transition: Green Skills, Social Protection, Inclusive and Gender-Transformative Approaches.” While consensus in the negotiations was elusive, this event contributed with some essential elements that need to be part of the JTWP discussions at COP29. The panel stressed the importance of care work, robust social protection, labour rights, and green skills development. Case studies from the Global South underscored the need for a gender-responsive, people-centered JTWP. 


Expert insights for a feminist Just Transition 

Brigitta Lambertz from GIZ emphasized: “We need a broad, integrated approach for social protection and to substantially increase investment in the human factor. It is important to provide access to social support for workers and their families affected by the transition.” 

Memory Kachambwa from FEMNET adds: “Championing women-led, community-owned energy enterprises or cooperatives is essential for a just energy transition. This approach creates decent jobs and addresses energy poverty and inequality. We should use ecofeminist principles to address gender-based violence in these sectors.” 

Sascha Gabizon from WECF reflects: “Several Just Transition programs are underway in the energy sector, moving from coal to renewables. Gender-transformative efforts in South Africa, for example, include women working in informal sectors like street food vendors, who will lose income due to the shift away from mining areas. This is good, but it is not enough“. “We need a broad approach that also considers the impacts of renewables, which require extractives like lithium and cobalt. We must apply existing mechanisms to ensure human rights and gender equality throughout the lifecycle, such as the CEDAW convention and the ESCAZU agreement, which specifically protects (women) environmental rights defenders.”


Case study: Women Waste Pickers in Bogotá, Colombia 

Valeria Peláez Cardona, Project Manager at WECF, presented the ENDA Colombia case study focusing on the waste sector, a significant source of greenhouse gases. This field requires policies that recognize the informal work of women waste pickers in the green transition, improving decent work conditions and social protection. ENDA has helped recycler collectives secure a standard price per kilogram of recycled waste, promoting economic independence and recognizing women’s contributions to reducing GHG emissions. However, challenges remain in strenuous and risky work conditions, lack of social protection and health insurance, and competition with private companies. 

Women recyclers face severe time poverty, juggling triple workdays that include care work, community work, and their recycling jobs. A 2024 ILO report reveals that women in Latin America spend 29 more hours per week than men on household and care duties. In Mexico, the economic value of women’s unpaid work represents 26% of the national GDP. Despite its significant contribution, this unpaid care work remains unrecognized. Public and private sectors must step in to provide social services, such as affordable childcare, to alleviate this burden on women.

Three important recommendations:  

  1. Recognize and Value (Women) Waste Pickers’ Work: Authorities must recognize their work as essential for society and the environment. Regulation must improve labor and economic conditions, such as providing occupational health protection measures i.e. alternatives to hand-pulled waste carts.
  2. Implementing Training and Reskilling Programs: Comprehensive programs should enhance waste pickers’ environmental contributions while minimizing health risks, for example by supporting tools and technologies for reuse, redesign, and recycling.
  3. Addressing Time Poverty through Social Protection Measures: Authorities must acknowledge women’s time poverty and care work burden, and expand the network of local centers (Manzanas de Cuidado), where childcare and other services are provided to women workers. Access to affordable health services, child care facilities, and pension wages are crucial for women waste pickers’ personal and professional growth.


Panelists from the World Bank, Trade Unions, and African feminist organizations highlighted the importance of safe working conditions for women, focusing on addressing and preventing sexual exploitation and abuse. They emphasized that gender-transformative programs need additional financing from grant sources to ensure equal access to new job markets for women and to revalue women’s work in the informal sector.