For further information on the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights please visit https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Forum/Pages/2019ForumBHR.aspx

For further information on the work of the Working Group on Business and Human Rights please visit https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Pages/WGHRandtransnationalcorporationsandotherbusiness.aspx 
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Wednesday, November 27 • 15:00 - 16:45
Addressing climate change: the business and human rights connection

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Interpretation provided in English, French and Spanish

Session organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights in collaboration with the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre and the B Team

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.

This session aims to:
  1. Demonstrate the connection between climate change and the business and human rights agenda;
  2. Discuss the role of states in encouraging businesses to assist in achieving a just transition to low carbon economy;
  3. 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;
  4. Review recent judicial and non-judicial attempts aimed at corporate accountability for climate change; and
  5. Identify good business practices aimed at addressing the current climate crisis.

The session with begin with panellists making brief introductory remarks about the responsibility of businesses to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for climate change (including by integrating climate considerations into their human rights due diligence processes) as well as recent attempts aimed at corporate accountability for climate change. This will be followed by a moderated discussion involving interventions from the floor, with special focus on drawing lessons from good practices and reflecting on what further actions are needed going forward.

avatar for Emily Hickson

Emily Hickson

Cause Strategist, Net-Zero by 2050, The B Team
Emily helps run The B Team's 2020 climate campaign, focusing on getting key countries and sectors to step up their ambition and action. She also leads The B Team's just transition program, which works with businesses and their workers so as to ensure the decarbonization process maximizes... Read More →

avatar for Cristina Tebar Less

Cristina Tebar Less

Jefa del Centro de la OCDE para la Conducta Empresarial Responsable, OCDE
avatar for Lalanath de Silva

Lalanath de Silva

Head of GCF's Independent Redres Mechanism, Green Climate Fund
Dr Lalanath de Silva is the Head of GCF's Independent Redress Mechanism. He has extensive experience in legal affairs, with more than 30 years of service as a practicing lawyer. In Sri Lanka, he supported the Ministry of Environment as a legal consultant, and was a member of his country's... Read More →
avatar for Surya Deva

Surya Deva

Member, UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights
Mr. Surya Deva is a WG Member and Associate Professor at the School of Law of City University of Hong Kong.  He holds BA (Hons), LLB and LLM from the University of Delhi and a PhD from Sydney Law School, and has taught previously at the University of Delhi and at the National Law... Read More →
avatar for Brynn O'Brien

Brynn O'Brien

Executive Director, The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR)
Brynn O’Brien is the Executive Director of the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR). ACCR promotes better performance of Australian listed companies on environmental and social issues, and especially on climate change. As an active shareholder organisation, ACCR... Read More →
avatar for Lisa Osbäck

Lisa Osbäck

Social Sustainability Manager, Scania
Lisa Osbäck is Social Sustainability Manager at Scania, a world-leading provider of transport solutions, including trucks and buses for heavy transport, with 52 000 employees in 100 countries. Scania is committed to drive the shift to a sustainable transport system and has responded... Read More →
avatar for Tessa Khan

Tessa Khan

Co-Director, Climate Litigation Network
Tessa Khan is an international human rights and climate change lawyer and Co-Director of the Climate Litigation Network (CLN), a project of the Urgenda Foundation. In 2015, Urgenda won a groundbreaking lawsuit against the Dutch government requiring the government to significantly... Read More →

Wednesday November 27, 2019 15:00 - 16:45 CET
Room XX