Available languages:
Addressing climate change - Forum on Business and Human Rights 2019
27 Nov 2019 -  Addressing climate change: the business and human rights connection

Brief description of the session:
Climate change and environmental degradation directly and indirectly interfere with the enjoyment of all human rights, including the rights to life, housing, water and sanitation, food, health, development, and an adequate standard of living. Ensuring sustainable development for all requires effectively addressing climate change through an internationally coordinated response based on common human rights and environmental principles such as solidarity, transparency, participation, access to information, accountability, remedies, the precautionary principle, equality, and equity.

The importance of rights-based climate action has been gaining momentum in various fora. The implementation of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda combined with the increasing engagement of the Human Rights Council, its special procedures mechanisms and the treaty-bodies with environmental issues presents a unique opportunity for integration of human rights in the development and implementation of environmental as well as climate change policies at the national and international level.

To avert future climate harms and ensure climate justice, the private sector must be part of the solution, as highlighted by the UNFCCC Adaptation Private Sector Initiative (PSI) and emphasized at the 2019 Climate Action Summit. Another example of corporate engagement with climate change is the Caring for Climate Initiative, which is hosted by the UN Global Compact and UN Environment and brings together more than 400 companies from around the world that have committed to taking action to address the climate crisis.

All business enterprises have a responsibility to prevent and address negative impact on the environment. Although neither the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights nor the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises explicitly mention climate change, it is widely accepted that the business responsibility to respect human rights and environmental rights includes the responsibility to identify, prevent, mitigate, and account for climate change. However, what this responsibility means in practice for corporate human rights due diligence as well as for state duty to protect against human rights abuses by businesses require further elaboration.

Against this backdrop, the session will explore what businesses should do to prevent climate harms and how states should support this goal by adopting appropriate policies and legal regulation. It will also review various judicial and non-judicial mechanisms employed in recent years to hold corporations accountable for climate change-related human rights harms, e.g., the RWE and Gloucester cases, the Dutch National Contact Point case concerning ING, and the climate change inquiry undertaken by the Philippines Commission on Human Rights. Moreover, it is hoped that the session will highlight the critical importance of integrating the human rights dimension in discussions at the UNFCCC COP 25 and beyond.

Objectives
This session aims to:
• Demonstrate the connection between climate change and the business and human rights agenda;
• Discuss the role of states in encouraging businesses to assist in achieving a just transition to low carbon economy;
• Articulate the responsibility of business enterprises to prevent, mitigate and address climate change as part of human rights due diligence by adopting a “risk-to-people” lens;
• Review recent judicial and non-judicial attempts aimed at corporate accountability for climate change; and
• Identify good business practices aimed at addressing the current climate crisis.

Moderators
Emily Hickson - Cause Strategist, Net-Zero by 2050, The B Team

Speakers
• Surya Deva - Member, UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights
• Cristina Tebar Less - Acting Head of the OECD Centre for Responsible Business Conduct, OECD
• Brynn O’Brien - Executive Director, Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility
• Tessa Khan - Co-Director, Climate Litigation Network
• Lisa Osbäck - Social Sustainability Manager, Scania
• Lalanath de Silva - Head of GCF's Independent Redres Mechanism, Green Climate Fund

(Forum on Business and Human Rights)
Recent Video On Demand