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Business Action to Avert the Climate Crisis:
Placing human rights-based climate action at the forefront of business operations 

11:00 - 12:30 (Bangkok time, GMT+7), 4 June 2021

Click HERE to access the recordings of the RBHR Forum on YouTube

Organised by the the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights (UNWG), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Entity for the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP)

Background

While the COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily shifted the focus of the business sector away from the climate crisis, it has also highlighted the deep interconnectedness between the business sector, the environment and the most vulnerable within societies, especially women and children. While there is now strong momentum within the global business community towards an emphasis on embedding the principles of Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) into business planning and operations, work still needs to be done on conveying the urgent collective actions by businesses to mitigate and adapt to climate change in line with international human rights standards. The interlinkages between gender equality, human rights and climate change are already well established, but more action is still needed. In order to avert the climate crisis businesses need to act on the symbiotic relationship of these three. Businesses should be supported to push forward under their own initiative in developing and implementing sustainable business models while paying close attention to issues that have to change in order to foster sustainable development. To achieve this, stakeholders at every level should work collectively to increase awareness of platforms and tools available to businesses to support them in taking human rights based climate action, including  sharing good practices, showcasing success stories and providing positive examples of protecting and promoting human rights throughout business operations and across business models - that will result in benefits to the most vulnerable populations within society, address the climate crisis, while building responsible and sustainable businesses.

Session Description

Businesses have a key responsibility to explicitly consider vulnerable groups of the population, especially women and children, in their climate and sustainability efforts. International banks and insurance companies are now incentivizing companies by requiring minimum levels of ESG from the businesses they work with; financial institutions are starting to understand the positive financial return profile of investing in businesses that place ESG at the core of their operations; and businesses themselves are seeing the range of benefits that come from improving their ESG credentials. It is against this background that the session will focus on how the tools and resources available to support businesses in integrating ESG and human rights and how the tools can steer the focus of their business models towards sustainability with benefits to the most vulnerable within society, and finally, how businesses can become positive advocates and role models for other businesses by sharing best practices and requiring better standards from suppliers and the areas where businesses need to improve.

Session Objectives

The session aims to facilitate a robust multi-stakeholder dialogue which will provide the tools to support businesses in implementing their ESG goals aligned to human rights. It will:

 

  • Raise awareness and build the capacity of various stakeholders on the tools available to businesses to support them in tackling climate change and implementing ESG and human rights standards;

  • To showcase successful examples of businesses leading the way in adopting businesses practices that support tackling climate change with human-rights and gender equality objectives;

  • To challenge businesses to improve in areas such as abolishing lobbying against strong climate mitigation policies and actions, supplying technologies needed to achieve a just transition (especially in developing countries), paying attention to differentiated and disproportionate impacts of climate change (e.g., adopting gender-responsive strategies);

  • To take stock of the key challenges, opportunities and progress made in Asia Pacific on ESG projects;

  • To encourage businesses to promote sustainable business practices throughout their supply chains, with partners and with clients, to become climate ambassadors in a meaningful way;

  • To encourage peer-learning amongst governments, international organizations, trade organisations, businesses, and civil society organisations (CSOs), facilitating the regional exchange of tools and good practices in implementing ESG.

Session format

An interactive panel discussion between stakeholders representing different sectors such as CSOs, youth, entrepreneurs, business and governments.

Panellists will reflect on the following questions:

General:

  • How has your organization integrated climate impacts on the most vulnerable (children, women, indigenous) within its business operations or business model?

  • What are the key barriers your organization is facing in order to place climate action back at the forefront of business operations while protecting and promoting human rights?

To CSOs and lawyers:

  • What has been your experience in challenging the status quo and pushing for change making business action to avert the climate crisis? 

  • What must change and what are the most urgent matters that businesses and governments need to act on to protect human rights while acting on the climate crisis?

To private sector:

  • What are your key lessons learned, and what are your suggestions for other companies that are considering taking action for climate change while protecting human rights and women’s economic empowerment?

  • To which degree has your example impacted your supply chains / inspired actions among suppliers?

  • What financial or investor actions would lead to an increased commitment to action on climate change?

  • How could initiatives such as the UN Global Compact be improved to encourage companies to take action? 

  • What government or regulatory policies would be needed to push broad-based action on climate in your industry?

To government:

  • Are there specific tools or support programmes that presently do not exist but if developed would encourage businesses to do more on climate change?

  • How does the government work with strengthening the interlinkages between private sector, climate change and human rights?

Contact
For questions, please contact unrbhrforum@undp.org