Human Rights Council

Just Transition in Energy and Extractives Industries…

Just Transition in Energy and Extractives Industries - Forum on Business and Human Rights 2023
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Day 1 (Room XX) - Just Transition in Energy and Extractives Industries - 12th United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights 27 - 29 November 2023
Brief description of the session: 
  • As the global impacts of climate change intensify, there is a growing sense of urgency among States and business enterprises to take actions to mitigate human-caused climate change. The urgent calls to accelerate actions include fast-tracking the energy transition and shifting away from intensive production and use of fossil fuel energy towards the efficient production and use of renewable energy. Various States and business enterprises have announced their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in alignment with the Paris Agreement to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. However, to achieve a resilient future for people and the planet, the energy transition must be not only environmentally sustainable, but also inclusive and just. A rights-based transition that is grounded on principles of global environmental justice, gender equality and human rights is particularly important, considering the legacies of extractive industries and large infrastructure development projects.
  • In this context, the Working Group on business and human rights presented in October 2023 a report to the General Assembly on "Extractive Sector, Just Transition and Human Rights'', which aims to provide practical guidance to States, business enterprises and other key stakeholders on ways of applying rights-based approach to design and implement the energy transition. It particularly provides guidance on how to further apply international principles on business and human rights such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in the area of the energy transition, and especially in relation to the production and use of critical transition minerals. Through moderated dialogues, this session seeks to shed light on challenges faced by rights holders and further discuss opportunities for States, business and other actors to apply rights-based approaches to achieve inclusive and just energy systems for the planet and people. This requires all actors to proactively collaborate and take actions to prevent and mitigate negative social and environmental impacts, while at the same time harnessing opportunities to achieve an inclusive society within planetary boundaries that leave no-one behind.
Format of the session:
  • The session consists of two parts dialogue with rights holders and experts. The first dialogue provides an overview of key environmental and human rights challenges faced by rights holders in the processes of energy transition, as well as alternative measures that respect and protect substantive and procedural rights of local communities. This is followed by a second dialogue, which further discusses the important role of States and business enterprises in applying a rights-based approach to the energy transition through examples of human rights due diligence practices to safeguard inclusive and just energy transition.
Key objectives of the session:
  • Provide critical human rights and environmental risks faced by rights holders in the context of transitioning towards renewable energy. 
  • Draw on initiatives led by States and business enterprises to prevent and mitigate environmental and human rights risks linked to the energy transition. In particular, the panel will discuss what measures are undertaken by States and enterprises to prevent and mitigate environmental and human rights risks, learning from the legacies of extractives and large-scale infrastructure projects. 
  • Shed light on potential strategies, and pathways towards inclusive and just energy transition with heightened responsibility for human rights due diligence among States and business enterprises. 
  • Emphasize the importance of upholding the right to participation and information and fostering international cooperation to ensure a just transition.  
  • Discuss strategies for ensuring job opportunities, capacity-building and skill development, guaranteeing access to comprehensive social security and safeguarding human rights defenders. 
Additional background documents: 
  • A/78/155: Extractive sector, just transition and human rights, Working Group on business and human rights. 
  • Information Note on Climate Change and the UNGPs, Working Group on business and human rights. 
  • A/75/181/Rev.1: The "just transition" in the economic recovery: eradicating poverty within planetary boundaries, Interim report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme
  • Yayoi Fujita Lagerqvist
  • Damilola Olawuyi
  • Alancay Morales Garro
  • Muhammad Al Amin
  • Innocence Ntap N'diaye
  • Joel Frijhoff
  • Justine Nolan