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Spectator Op-Ed" Next generation leaders speak about ‘just transition’

By Geoffrey Ondercin-Bourne

Fri., Feb. 25, 2022

The United Nations Association in Canada Hamilton Branch (UNAC HB) invites you to a special online public event on Sunday from 2 to 3:30 p.m. to mark the UN’s annual World Day of Social Justice.

The UNAC HB focuses on human rights, peace issues, environmental concerns and global interests to raise the awareness of the United Nations in our community. Our local branch of UNAC actually predates the UN, itself, having been established in the 1920s during the time of the League of Nations. We’ve been a part of the Hamilton community for a century!

Our event, entitled “Listening to the Next Generation,” features three outstanding Hamilton-area youth who will offer their perspectives on what a “just transition” should look like, identify the obstacles, as well as the means by which we can overcome those obstacles.

The inspiration for this event comes from both the United Nations Framework Conference for Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its report called “Just Transition of the Workforce and the Creation of Decent Work and Quality Jobs” (, as well as Hamilton’s own 2021 document “A Just Recovery for Hamilton” ( It is also inspired by several of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, including no poverty (No. 1), reduced inequalities (No. 10), climate action (No. 13), and peace, justice and strong institutions (No. 16) (

Young people have a special interest in securing a just economy that addresses the needs of workers but within a framework that acknowledges and takes on the challenge of climate change. As if that weren’t enough of a challenge, COVID-19 has shone a light on the significant changes in the very nature of work that will force young people to better appreciate the need for a just transition than older workers who grew up in a 20th-century model of employment. For these reasons, we believe this is a timely discussion for Canadians to engage in with each other.

We have three next generation leaders who will give us three different but complementary presentations that reflect a community, global, and Indigenous interpretation of what the just transition should look like. It is essential that young people take their rightful place in any discussion about this transition, with all the environmental and economic impacts that it will have on them. To make this happen, “the transition toward inclusive green economies must be fair, maximizing opportunities for economic prosperity, social justice, rights and social protection for all, leaving no one behind.”

With that goal in mind, the International Labour Organization, an agency of the UN, prepared a report called “Is the future ready for youth? Youth employment policies for evolving labour markets,” which warns us that “the future of the planet, of work, of innovation and of equality and justice will depend on how today’s youth find their rightful place in society.” These are all challenges that will be a part of our discussion, which we hope will end on an optimistic note.

Please join us for a lively and informed discussion led by the next generation of youth leaders about their future, as well as the future of our society and the planet. For further details, visit our website at and click on the events tab.

Geoffrey Ondercin-Bourne is vice-chair of the United Nations Association of Canada, Hamilton Branch.

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