Day Zero took place on 8 February 2023 and it offered participants an opportunity to attend both in-person and digital workshops, debates, and exhibitions related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The theme of this year’s conference was “A just transformation to a sustainable future”. GRIP hosted two sessions entitled “The Green Transition: Oil, Unions, and Climate” and “Decolonising universities and epistemologies”. The day was filled with informative and engaging discussions on challenges relating to just transition.
Decolonising Universities and Epistemologies
The event brought together a diverse group of experts, including Wesley Maraire from GRIP, Dr. Nonceba Mbambo-Kekana from University of Limpopo, Tor Halvorsen from University of Bergen, José Frantz from University of the Western Cape, Andrea Feldd from University of Bergen, Jan Ifversen from University of Århus, Anders Breidlid from Oslo Met University, and Lisa Rakner from University of Bergen.
The discussion kicked off with the question of how to regain local knowledge through decolonising Western hegemonies. Dr. Nonceba Mbambo-Kekana stressed the importance of accepting all knowledge as mainstream knowledge, instead of seeing it as an add-on to western knowledge. The participants also delved into deeper discussions on the structural factors that shape knowledge hierarchies.
The speakers provided insightful perspectives and led a rich and thought-provoking discussion on the role of decolonising epistemologies in realising the SDGs. The session was a critical step towards understanding the need for decolonisation of epistemologies as a global precondition for realising the SDGs. The panel also marked the continuation of a larger discussion that covers areas such as the necessary changes in disciplines and universities, and how to regain the “lost knowledge” in the Global South to create new ideas about sustainable solutions.
The Green Transition: Oil, Unions, and Climate
As part of The Green Transition: Oil, Unions, and Climate session, GRIP hosted a screening of the short documentary film “Talking Union, Talking Climate,” directed by Vivian Price at Bergen Global. The film showcases a conversation between three oil workers from Nigeria, the United States, and Norway, providing an insight into worker’s concerns about labour conditions, relations, and sheds light on their take on climate change, the role of oil industry and unions in this challenging context.
After the screening, a panel discussion took place moderated by Elina Troscenko (GRIP) and featuring the film director and several scholars. The discussion touched upon such topics as various understandings and meanings of just transition, inequalities related to extraction industries, oil workers’ narratives and perspectives on green transition, the role of labour unions in the just transition. Ragnhild Freng Dale, one of the panelists, stated that unions have a responsibility to push for policy change and maintain good working conditions. Austin Ablo added that the transition must be context-specific, while Marianna Betti argued that unions should acquire knowledge and networks to leverage during the transition. Vivian Price emphasised the importance of unions working together in tackling the green transition.
The conversation following the film screening highlighted the power of oil and the many challenges societies are faced with in facilitating a just transition. It illustrated that the starting points for a green transition are very different in the different oil producing contexts, as underscored by one of the oil workers from the film – “here the unions are trapped in issues related to bread and butter” highlighting the different socio-economic realities of the workers. In addition, questions were raised if the green and just transition demands more than we realize, putting forward a suggestion that there might be a need for a paradigm change in the ways we built our societies and the way we think about our consumption and sustainable futures.
GRIP events were attended by a great number of conference participants, and we extend our gratitude to all the panelists who contributed to the important topics such as the need to decolonise Western hegemony in the existing knowledge systems and the crucial role of labour unions in facilitating a green and just transition for sustainable futures.
For more information on other sessions and discussions that took place during Day Zero, please visit conference website. Each of the session video recordings can be found under the respective session title.