Tauranga City Council:
Achieving a a just transition for Tauranga
The question about how to achieve a just transition will be heard more and more frequently, both in business and community discussions. It is a concept that lies at the very heart of truly sustainable development and is absolutely central to a future where no one is left behind. So what does it mean for a council?
In the fast-growing and culturally diverse city of Tauranga, Tauranga City Council (TCC) embarked on a journey to integrate a just transition approach into its corporate sustainability strategy. This transformational effort was one of three pillars underpinning TCC's corporate sustainability plan, alongside climate resilience and greenhouse gas emissions reduction.
In collaboration with Proxima, TCC undertook a comprehensive process to address this complex issue. Here are some of the insights arising from the project:
Insight 1: Useful to clarify and agree just transition principles in context
What really is a "Just Transition"? It took some time and effort to agree underlying principles before diving into the work of what it meant in practical terms. By sidestepping the buzzword, TCC was able to create a better shared understanding of the most relevant issue in very practical and tangible terms.
Insight 2: Value chain assessment vital to understand relationships
Maps are always valuable. A high-level value chain assessment of TCC allowed us to consider all relevant relationships. This highlighted the functions of funding and finance, corporate governance and project management, alongside the more obvious issues of staff wellbeing and supplier relationships. This structured approach enabled us to identify and delve more deeply into the most significant issues with internal and external experts.
Insight 3: Systemic challenges require systemic solutions
Addressing root causes. Many just transition and equity issues have deep systemic roots, often resulting from ingrained organisational systems, norms, and cultures. To be effective, solutions need to be equally systemic and strategically considered, to ensure that sustainable practices are embedded into new ways of working.
Process and Implementation
Proxima's collaboration with TCC involved a multi-step process:
Research and Review: Delving deep into the basic principles of just transition; reviewing existing frameworks; and learning from how others have approached the issues.
Value Chain Assessment: Mapping the full range of potential issues through a holistic lens that considered all aspects where TCC exercises some level of control or influence in decision-making.
Engagement: Conducting interviews and workshops to include a diverse range of perspectives and interests. This step tested findings from the the value chain assessment and delved more deeply into the specific issues with those who understood them best.
Synthesis and recommendations: Bringing information and findings together to identify priorities and insights with goals, tactics and actions as the basis for a practical plan.
Results, Outcomes, and Impact
Working collaboratively with TCC, the project achieved tangible and practical results:
Underlying Principles: A set of basic principles to define what a just transition approach means in practice for Tauranga City.
Commitments: A set of commitments that explained the change in working practices needed for TCC to align with a just transition approach.
Aspirations: Clearly articulated strategic outcomes defining success for just transition outcomes.
Practical actions: Recommendations for practical actions in priority areas.
Adoption: TCC’s final plan adopted a broad range of the recommended actions for immediate or short-term action, demonstrating a commitment to making real progress.
The question about how to achieve a just transition will be heard more and more frequently, both in business and council discussions. It is a concept that lies at the very heart of truly sustainable development and is absolutely central to a future where no one is left behind.
TCC’s authentic approach to the challenge, involving the right people in meaningful and open dialogue, is a powerful example of how organisations can tackle the systemic challenges more effectively. Just transition issues are complex and intricately woven through legacy systems and processes that need to be reviewed at this point of the sustainability transition.
TCC’s approach emphasises the value of taking a fresh look at the way decisions are made and enabling a collective effort to find the right solutions.