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Monday, November 29 • 11:50am - 1:00pm
Preventing and remediating climate harm: Who needs to do what?

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Session organized by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights

Interpretation will be available in English, French and Spanish

Brief description of the session:
The session will highlight concrete rights-based actions that States, businesses, investors and other actors should take to prevent, mitigate and remediate the climate crisis. Various panellists will unpack the urgent steps that various actors should take in line with key international instruments such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) as elaborated by the forthcoming Information Note developed by the Working Group on Business and Human Rights, and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Ten years after the adoption of the Guiding Principles, the session will frame this discussion around how actors from different constituencies should act together to achieve rights-based just transition that give priority to people and the planet over profit.

Key objectives of the session:
The session aims to:
  • Discuss guidance on the how to implement UN Guiding Principles in the context of the climate crisis;
  • Underline the importance of meaningful and effective participation of people, including communities in vulnerable and marginalised situations, in developing policies, solutions and actions aimed at achieving just transition;
  • Highlight the linkages between States’ duty to protect human rights and rights-based climate action;
  • Unpack what the business responsibility to respect human rights entails in the context of the climate crisis; and
  • Articulate access to remedy for individuals and communities affected by climate change.  

Key questions:
  • How can the UNGPs inspire inclusive, rights-based climate action? What good practices could States, businesses and other actors such as civil society, national human rights institutions, academia and international organizations draw on?
  • What does the duty of States to protect human rights mean in the context of averting climate crisis?
  • How should business enterprises integrate climate considerations as part of their human rights responsibility to respect human rights throughout their operations, including as part of due diligence?
  • How can access to information, transparency and policy coherence be ensured, and what measures are needed to address corporate lobbying against measures aimed at mitigating climate change?
  • How can access to effective remedy for individuals and communities affected by climate change as well as the protection of environmental human rights defenders be ensured in recovery measures and beyond? What are existing challenges and opportunities?

Background to the discussion:
In a dedicated statement for UNFCCC COP26, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called for “business models that are respectful of the environment and protect human rights” and noted that “Governments and other authorities, businesses and individuals have a shared responsibility to prevent, mitigate and remedy the negative human rights impacts of climate change.”

Preventing environmental harm is critical to ensure the full and effective implementation of fundamental human rights such as those to health, a healthy environment, and water and sanitation. All States have an obligation to pursue development that benefits both people and the planet and equitably distribute the benefits of economic growth. Businesses have a responsibility to respect human rights, including to integrate climate considerations into human rights due diligence processes.

Courts, non-judicial mechanisms such as National Contact Points as well as human rights mechanisms are increasingly being called on to interpret and apply the obligations of states and businesses in the context of climate change. In 2021, the EU Parliament approved a proposed outline for an EU Directive on Mandatory Human Rights, Environmental and Good Governance Due Diligence. In addition, the OECD has recently undertaken a stocktaking exercise seeking comments on its Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights is developing guidance on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in the context of climate change.

Additional background documents:

avatar for Tessa Khan

Tessa Khan

Director & Founder, Uplift
Tessa is an international climate change and human rights lawyer and campaigner. She is currently the Director and founder of Uplift, an organisation that supports a just transition away from fossil fuels in the UK. Previously, she was co-founder and Co-Director of the Climate Litigation... Read More →

avatar for Surya Deva

Surya Deva

member, UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights
Mr. Surya Deva is a Professor at the Macquarie Law School, University of Macquarie, Sydney. He researches in the areas of business and human rights, India-China constitutional law, international human rights law, and sustainable development. Deva has published extensively in these... Read More →
avatar for Jenny Sandvig

Jenny Sandvig

Policy Director, Norway's National Human Rights Institution
Jenny Sandvig is a Policy Director at the Norwegian National Human Rights Institution (NHRI), responsible for their work on climate and human rights. In this capacity, Ms. Sandvig has led the work on a third-party intervention submitted on behalf of the European Network of National... Read More →
avatar for Sophie Marjanac

Sophie Marjanac

Senior Lawyer / Climate Accountability Lead, ClientEarth
Sophie Marjanac is an internationally recognised expert in climate change law and litigation, human rights and corporate management of climate risk. She leads our Climate Accountability Initative, which focusses on strategic litigation and other legal interventions to drive governments... Read More →
avatar for Caio Borges

Caio Borges

Portfolio Manager - Law and Climate, Institute for Climate and Society
Caio Borges leads the Law and Climate Portfolio at the Institute for Climate and Society, a philanthropic organization which supports projects and organizations in the field of climate change. He has more than ten years of experience with business and human rights, financial regulation... Read More →
avatar for Yann Wyss

Yann Wyss

Senior Manager, Social Impact, Nestlé
Yann Wyss joined Nestlé in 2011 as a human rights expert to develop and implement Nestlé’s Human Rights Due Diligence Program across the company’s operations and supply chain. He started his career in the Swiss Foreign Ministry, where he was actively involved in the creation... Read More →
avatar for Ruwan Subasinghe

Ruwan Subasinghe

Legal Director, International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF)
Ruwan Subasinghe is the Legal Director of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). He specialises in labour, human rights and international law. Ruwan represents the ITF at external bodies including the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Organization for... Read More →

Monday November 29, 2021 11:50am - 1:00pm CET
Virtual Plenary room