KNBA - KBC

Just Transition Summit hopes to share ideas about moving away from single resource economies

Dec 13, 2019

Native Movement executive director Enei Begaye, left, and Jessica Girard, director of the Fairbanks Climate Action Coalition, talk about the Just Transition Summit on January 8-10, 2020, in Fairbanks, Alaska. (Photo by Tripp J Crouse/KNBA)

A summit next month in Fairbanks hopes to build collaboration and strategies that address the challenges of relying on oil-and-gas development.

Organizers hope that the Just Transition Summit – January 8-10, 2020 – provides a space for “Indigenous and non-Indigenous collaboration to build critical thinking around economic and social transition.”

“Just Transition is an exciting concept … about building a regenerative economy,” said Native Movement executive director Enei Begaye during an interview with Morning Line host Danny Preston. “We know, we have to use resources to build an economy. But how are we using those resources? Are we using resources that renew, regenerate? It's a concept that is all about understanding that transition is inevitable. Whether we're talking about climate change, whether we're talking about the finite resources of fossil fuels, we have to transition because those things don't last.”

Begay also says it’s about including justice and equality, as about bringing in voices who have been marginalized in previous conversations.

Jessica Girard is the director of the Fairbanks Climate Action Coalition. She speaks to how a transition away from oil –and-gas dependence has to be just and equitable.

“The concept of transition is inevitable, but justice is not?” Girard said.  “we've had transitions abound in our economies and our ecological transitions. But many times people are left behind can specifically in the context of Indigenous peoples, young peoples, union folks are left behind the decision making process.

Girard says the Just Transitions summit is “about deeply democratizing the process of transition. She hopes that the voices that were formerly and primarily affected become the primary decision makers “because they’re also the closest to the solution.”       

There’s deep Indigenous knowledge and systems already in place in Alaska, Begay says. Alaska Native people have already built relationships with the land that understand how to live more sustainably with the land.

“Just transition is bringing that knowledge, uplifting Indigenous knowledge systems into the development of a new paths forward,” Begay said. “I think if we if we were to incorporate more of that understanding of how to live in good relationship with our environment and with each other, we would have we would be building systems of economy systems of healthcare systems of education.” 

Co-hosts include Native Peoples Action, Native Movement, The Alaska Center, Alaska Public Interest Research Group, Fairbanks Climate Action Coalition and the Gwich’in Steering Committee.

“This is an initial conversation that we're having. This is our first gathering together and bringing more people in,” Girard said. “We just want to let everybody know that there will be more conversations in the in the future, and we hope that everyone engages in them.”

Registration for the summit is full. But Girard says some of the speakers will be live streamed at justtransitionak.org.