University of Oulu

Sarkki, S., Ludvig, A., Nijnik, M. et al. Embracing policy paradoxes: EU’s Just Transition Fund and the aim “to leave no one behind”. Int Environ Agreements 22, 761–792 (2022).

Embracing policy paradoxes : EU’s Just Transition Fund and the aim “to leave no one behind”

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Author: Sarkki, Simo1; Ludvig, Alice2; Nijnik, Maria3;
Organizations: 1Cultural Anthropology, University of Oulu, PO Box 1000, 90014, Oulu, Finland
2Institute of Forest, Environment and Natural Resource Policy, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), 1180, Vienna, Austria
3The James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen, AB15 8QH, Scotland, UK
4Ukrainian National Forestry University, Gen. Chuprynky Str., 103, Lviv, 79057, Ukraine
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2022
Publish Date: 2023-05-24


With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, UN Member States pledge “to leave no one behind” and “endeavour to reach the furthest behind first”. The EU Just Transition Fund (JTF) was designed to meet these policy objectives. It is one of three pillars of the Just Transition Mechanism, aiming at fair delivery of the European Green Deal and reducing adverse social and economic impacts of the transition towards a climate-neutral Europe. We examine the formulation of the JTF Regulation, from January 2020 until July 2021 and analyse seven topics of importance during the JTF formulation. Based on the results, we identify and discuss four paradoxes related to governance scales, offsetting exclusion, equity illusion, and eligibility criteria. The paradoxes arise from tension between the all-inclusive objective to leave no one behind, and selective affirmative actions, seeking to reach the furthest behind first. Results of the analysis enabled us to put forward plausible strategies to embrace these policy paradoxes to offer important lessons learned for the JTF and also to future policies that seek to leave no one behind.

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Series: International environmental agreements. Politics, law and economics
ISSN: 1567-9764
ISSN-E: 1573-1553
ISSN-L: 1567-9764
Volume: 22
Issue: 4
Pages: 761 - 792
DOI: 10.1007/s10784-022-09584-5
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 520 Other social sciences
Funding: Open Access funding provided by University of Oulu including Oulu University Hospital. This research received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement No 677622 (SIMRA), Grant Agreement No 101000574 (RESONATE) and Grant Agreement No 86244816 (SHERPA). It was also partly funded by University of Oulu’s TransArct (Transformation and Social Innovation for Sustainable Arctic Communities, 2018–2021) project ( and supported by Biodiverse Anthropocenes Research Programme Research Hub 4: Envisioning Sustainability. At the James Hutton Institute, this research was partly funded from the Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division of the Scottish Government through its Strategic Research Programme (2022–2027).
EU Grant Number: (677622) SIMRA - Social Innovation in Marginalised Rural Areas
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