The session sought to address questions on How can we address the fundamental flaw of capitalism when it comes to redistributing wealth between rich and poor?
One of the sessions during the SDG Conference Bergen was dedicated to the issue of how to achieve and implement a just transition. The current economic system has proven its merits when it comes to generating economic activity and wealth, but also inequality and disastrous environmental impact. The session sought to address questions on How can we address the fundamental flaw of capitalism when it comes to redistributing wealth between rich and poor? Which practices and institutional arrangements are sustaining the raise in inequality and what can we do about it? What is the role of trade unions and civil society organisations in furthering the agenda of a truly just transformation that challenges the dominating neo-liberal agenda?
The sessions’ keynote was given by GRIP affiliate Katja Hujo of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD). In her keynote address, Hujo discussed the recent UNRISD Flagship Report “Crises of Inequality: Shifting Power for a New Eco-Social Contract.” She underlined the need for a new society model given the current status of multiple and overlapping crises and escalating inequalities, proposing to change the current development paradigm through establishing a new eco-social contract. Hujo underlined how the current crises are not coincidence but are features of the current system embedded in ideas of neoliberal hyper-globalisation, where economic profit motives exceed social and ecological ones. Binding our societies together reinvent and reconstruct the social contract binding our societies together, which is fully inclusive and incorporates such elements as solidarity, environment interests of future generations, addresses historical injustices, entails progressive fiscal contract among its many elements. Hujo spoke about the importance of fair labour practices, addressing asymmetries in multilateralism, and changing narratives and policies in forging new coalitions and alliances for social, economic and climate justice.
The first panelist, Mark Taylor, researcher from FAFO Institute for Labour and Social Research, commented on the rising protectionism and the need to change the international legal system to protect the biosphere. He emphasised the importance of mobilising labour and implementing regulations that empower workers’ movements. The second panelist, Anja Bakken Riise of Future in our hands (FIVH) , spoke about the strong social contract in Norway and the need to broaden the concept of just transition to encompass the concept of living within planetary boundaries. She also introduced the transparency laws in Norway that require Norway-based companies to conduct sustainability due diligence throughout their whole value chain.
The session concluded by highlighting the importance of a radical transformation of the current system to address the crisis of inequality and achieve a just transition. The speakers argued for a stronger role of trade unions and civil society organisations in furthering this agenda and the need for a combination of fair labour practices, a shift in narratives and policies, and changes in the current neoliberal market system as well as legal system to address the crisis of inequality.
You can access and the read a summary of the UNRISD report on our website.