Bridging Decarbonisation and Labour Market in Sustainability Transitions (LAMARTRA)


LAMARTRA is a BRAIN-BE 2.0 research project which addresses decarbonization and labour market in sustainability transitions. As the low-carbon transition has progressed beyond its initial stages, much uncertainty still remains regarding the structural societal changes through which to address environmental pressures, climate policy targets, and societal challenges of economic development, social inclusion, and work and employment. The increasing “just transition” discourse calls for addressing those societal issues.


The “bridging two transitions” approach is scientifically ambitious. LAMARTRA responds to the  fragmented conceptualization, the interlinkages and the governance of ‘decarbonization & labour’ to come to a more operational understanding on how to ensure ‘just transition’ processes. Much on this front is yet to be elaborated beyond pioneering empirical studies, literature reviews and conceptual debates. Studies of sustainability transitions tend to neglect labour implications, and labour studies rarely engage with transitions-theoretical insights on system innovation processes.


The research question that will be addressed throughout the project is: How to understand the ongoing and future developments of the low-carbon and labour transitions, and which governance strategies are available in Belgium to ensure the joint pursuit of climate targets and ‘just’ work and employment?  The associated research objectives are:

  • Map the profile of workers (in carbon-intensive industrial companies and in other salient sectors). The analysis will be particularly attentive to ‘vulnerable workers’ (e.g. low-skilled, women, migrants) and will evaluate regional variation in worker profiles.
  • Elaborate foresight scenarios and organize associated backcasting with key stakeholders. This will disclose the range of possible and desirable futures regarding low-carbon/labour transition in the salient sectors.
  • Engage with and analyse the workplace politics of the low-carbon transition in the salient sectors.
  • Identify dynamics, challenges and strategies of transitions governance in the salient sectors. This also involves comparison against reference cases in other countries.
  • Design appropriate policy mixes for the bridging between the ‘two transitions’. This is informed by an interdisciplinary analysis of new empirical evidence and integrative discussion of governance implications.

In that sense, building on expertise from sustainability transitions, foresight, science and technology studies, labour economics and sociology of work, this interdisciplinary research project will address quantitative and qualitative sectorial and occupational changes in work and employment to shed light and go beyond the scientifically outdated and politically undermining ‘climate vs. jobs’ framings. The methodology involves in-depth and comparative analysis of four salient economic sectors in Belgium, also comparing against reference cases abroad. The analysis builds on literature-based conceptual integration, qualitative analysis of transitions governance and sociology of work aspects, quantitative methods from labour economy, and participative backcasting. 

Within the project, in collaboration with IWEPS, Spiral will be responsible for identifying desirable futures and describing the means to achieve them for each of the cases investigated. An innovative participatory methodology based on foresight scenarios and hybrid stakeholder forums will be used for this purpose.


Project partners


The project partners are the:

  • Center for Studies on Sustainable Development (CEDD) from the Institute for Environmental Management and Land-use Planning (IGEAT) - Université Libre de Bruxelles
  • Research Institute for Work and Society (HIVA) - KU Leuven
  • Walloon Institute for Evaluation Foresight and Statistics (IWEPS)
  • Research center SPIRAL – Faculty of Law, Political Science and Criminology - University of Liège,
  • Work, Enterprise, Democracy (TED) unit from the Center for interdisciplinary research Democracy, Institutions (CriDIS), Subjectivity - UCLouvain

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