Just green transition refers to the transformation of our economies towards climate-neutrality, ensuring that no one is left behind (EU Green Deal). This transition lies at the very heart of the Nordic 2030 Vision, whereby the region’s economy continues to grow and to reinforce social inclusion, whilst decoupling from resource depletion and environmental degradation.

As regions and cities adapt their economies to meet the ambitious climate goals in our region, some sectors and territories will be severely affected; in particular, activities with high dependence on fossil fuels, like petroleum refining, will gradually decline. Cities and regions hosting declining industries will require support to mitigate the adverse social effects of climate transitions and develop alternative economic activities. Other areas specialized in greenhouse gas-intensive industries will experience processes of technology substitution, which will lead to functional dependencies between sectors and potential cascade effects. Finally, some areas with a strong competitive position in emerging sectors will attract significant investments and should work to avoid windfall economic benefits. In sum, the just green transitions will need to be planned and monitored, so that the economic and social costs of the transition to a climate-neutral economy are minimized.

Nordregio has built up extensive knowledge on institutional and organisational aspects of the just green transition, as well as the reconciliation of these goals with social priorities. Nordregio has produced overviews of policy instruments and “good practice” case studies of national, regional and local governance supporting innovation and entrepreneurship for green growth, and examined relevant factors hindering and promoting social justice and social inclusion. Nordregio has provided technical support to the European Commission for the preparation of the so-called Just Transition Plans for several areas in the Nordic Region. Results from these initiatives have been disseminated and discussed with national, regional and local stakeholders in the Nordics.

The green transition itself is seen as a positive development in mitigation to climate change, however, it affects the spatial distribution of labour and financial growth. There is a special concern that there will also be negative effects, and they will be proportionally bigger in the rural areas and for vulnerable groups of people. That makes the green transition a very topical research subject and Nordegio is currently running several projects to build knowledge and connect stakeholder groups to ensure an inclusive and just transition through policy development in the Nordic Region.