Research has linked climate change and reproductive rights, as demonstrated by the increased exposure of women to sexual assault as they collect firewood or search for water. Such sexualized violence is prevalent in women-led rural households and highly vulnerable settings. For example, humanitarian contexts, slums, and arid areas have high rates of sexual violence due to water scarcity and poor lighting as women and adolescent girls travel long distances to access water. From an African socio-cultural context, fetching water and firewood are mainly feminine roles. Thus, energy distribution and water scarcity associated with climate change interact with gender dynamics to provide a setting for enacting sexualized violence. Freedom from sexual violence is an integral aspect of reproductive justice, a state where people have bodily autonomy and live in a safe and healthy environment that protects and upholds their reproductive rights and decisions. The question that arises is - can green projects, including the EU Green Deal, address climate change in a manner that addresses the associated sexual and reproductive justice issues in Sub-Saharan Africa?
While the law is to a large extent responsible for the overlapping social and ecological breakdowns, translating the above-mentioned principles into law means creating legal frameworks (through the interpretation of existing legal rules and principles and the creation of new legal instruments) that move away from the primacy of market logics and extractive profit-oriented economies embedded in colonial legacies, and reproducing gendered and racialized inequalities. It requires designing legal responses that would enable transformative ways of thinking about economies, justice, and our relationship with the non-human worlds, while embedding law and policies in truly democratic frameworks and practices. It means centering within legal thinking and legal practices the multiple forms of exclusions that are pervasive within and outside the EU, and that EU laws and policies often directly enable. Making a fair and inclusive transition happen requires bold choices and unwavering principles. Right now, the EU is quite far from embracing and practicing them.
In this contribution, we demonstrate how the so-called Green Deals initiatives which espouse an increasing drive to “catalyze” private financing by using public resources, including development assistance, may create perverse impacts on sustainable development in developing countries. The move may mean an overarching shift towards reliance on private sector to provide public infrastructure and services in ways that ensure a return for the private sector through buy-back guarantees and favourable contractual conditions. Such moves may create contingent liabilities on developing countries in addition to diverting public resources towards the private sector, including foreign investors, and undermining public oversight.
In this contribution, the author makes three claims. First, just transition interventions around the world are dominantly insular and ‘State-first’. The dominance of nationalist just transition policy making is evident in the America-first emphasis of the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the EU-first tilt of the European Green Deal (EGD). Second, the insular nature of just transition policies is hallmarking a new epoch of global injustice that, if not cauterized and dealt with early (if not already late), will become a major sphere of global inequality. Third, human and ecological wellbeing as an organizing principle, and differentiation as an implementation framework, will be key to any meaningful attempt to inject the ‘global’ into just transition.