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3 November 2023

Steve Tshwete Local Municipality boldly leads the charge on climate change through the just transition

Local governments have an integral role in the Just Transition. The Steve Tshwete Local Municipality (STLM) sets an example for cities through their service delivery, technical ability, demonstration of leadership, and commitment towards bold climate action.

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What is a just transition?

A just transition in essence is about transformation from our unjust past and present, to a more inclusive, equitable and just society for all, while supporting the protection and liveability of our planet. The newly adopted Climate Change Bill provides the first official definition for a just transition to appear in South African law. It highlights that a “Just Transition means a shift towards a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy and society and ecologically sustainable economies and societies which contribute toward the creation of decent work for all, social inclusion and the eradication of poverty”.

The just transition can only be achieved when its three dimensions are tackled simultaneously:

1. DISTRIBUTIVE JUSTICE speaks to what are the costs, who is bearing the costs of the transition, what are the benefits, and who can access them.

2. PROCEDURAL JUSTICE relates to inclusive decision-making and making sure those affected and those often excluded in society are heard and can assert their rights. 

3. RESTORATIVE JUSTICE is about improving the conditions for those historically marginalised. 

At the heart of the just transition will always be people.

With funding from and partnership with the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), ICLEI Africa is proud to be supporting the Steve Tshwete Local Municipality in the development of a just transition chapter in their Integrated Development Plan, a Just Transition Finance Roadmap, and early project preparation for a pipeline of projects that will enable and accelerate the just transition in Steve Tshwete Local Municipality. Part of this work includes providing guidance for what may constitute a just transition project, conceptualising and co-developing such projects, as well as match-making these projects with investors during in order to unlock much needed finance for further project development and implementation.

What is a key approach in enabling the just transition?

Learning labs are useful in exploring the complexity of the challenges faced for supporting a just transition by providing a space for dialogue between diverse groups and sectors, in an open and transparent manner.


ICLEI Africa, AFD and Steve Tshwete Local Municipality held a Just Transition Project Identification Learning Lab in June 2023 to:
  • explore the key definitions for a just transition and contextualise the definition for the municipality,
  • discuss the guiding principles for determining the classification and selection criteria for just transition projects, and
  • brainstorm potential projects for project pipeline development.
Representatives from various departments from the municipality were in attendance, together with the Mpumalanga Province, which added a variety of perspectives and rich inputs to the discussions.

In October 2023, a learning lab focusing on strategic action planning for the just transition, explored ways to mainstream the just transition in the municipality, working transversally across departments to explore the essential pathways for the municipality to leverage multi-level governance and partnerships for the planning and implementation of the just transition.

Crucially, we unpacked the “HOW”, by commencing the process for the co-creation of  a Just Transition Roadmap, while integrating elements of this Roadmap into policies and plans. 

Among key stakeholders involved, the ICLEI Africa team also met with the Municipal Manager, Mr Mandla Mnguni (centre), to update him on the project and explore the priority projects discussed during the insightful learning lab. Mr Mnguni welcomed  the support provided by ICLEI Africa and AFD in enabling Steve Tshwete Local Municipality’s just transition, which contributes to the municipality’s bold climate action and dedication to service delivery.


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