2023 Summer/Winter School – Transformation and Transition at the Climate-Plastics Nexus

Date and time: Monday 11 September 2023, 4.30pm-5.30pm



The need for a ‘just’ transition has taken hold in international climate law. While early understandings of just transition focused almost exclusively on the rights of workers, the need to question the just transition narrative in light of the injustice of the starting point has led to critical engagement with just transition and theories of transformation. As over 90% of virgin plastics are derived from fossil fuels, the transition and transformation conversation must also be addressed in relation to the plastics challenge understood as part of the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature loss and pollution and waste, all of which have grave implications for human rights.

Dr. Majekolagbe will begin the lecture by tracing the history of the just transition narrative, critiquing its assumptions, and proposing a just transition framing focused on socio-ecological wellbeing rather than the allocation and distribution of resources. He will show that just transition necessarily becomes a human rights concern when wellbeing is the primary objective.

Dr. Seck will then explore how a human rights-based approach to state duties and business responsibilities, informed by the component parts of the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, can contribute to transformational understandings of both climate and plastics ‘transition’.


Dr. Adebayo Majekolagbe, Assistant Teaching Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Alberta

Dr. Sara L. Seck, Associate Professor and Yogis & Keddy Chair in Human Rights Law, Schulich School of Law, Marine & Environmental Law Institute, Dalhousie University; Director for North America, GNHRE


Adebayo Majekolagbe, Just Transition as Wellbeing: A Capability Approach Framing

Sara L Seck, Blog Post “Turning off the Plastics Tap through a BHR lens” (May 25, 2023) Law at the End of the Day, https://lcbackerblog.blogspot.com/2023/05/sara-l-seck-turning-off-plastics-tap.html

UNEP/Dalhousie, Plastics, Human Rights and Business Responsibilities: An Issue Brief (August 2022), https://wedocs.unep.org/handle/20.500.11822/41270

UNEP/Dalhousie, Business, Human Rights and the Environment in South-East Asia: Overcoming the Plastics Challenge – Policy Training Resource (September 2022), https://wedocs.unep.org/handle/20.500.11822/41852