United Nations Responsible Business and Human Rights Forum, Asia-Pacific
Day 1 | 7 June
Extractive Sector, Just Transition and Human Rights
In response to the climate emergency, a growing number of countries, business enterprises, and other stakeholders in the extractives sector worldwide have announced, or are currently developing, plans to implement a renewable energy transition. Yet, concerns have emerged on how the design and implementation of energy transition policies and projects, especially the sourcing of critical transition minerals, may further exacerbate, inter alia, child labor, modern slavery, poverty, and social exclusion, as well as impact the enjoyment of the human right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. Against this backdrop, this raises the question of how can a rights-based and just transition be achieved – that is, transition to a green and climate-neutral economy which is fair and inclusive, creates decent working opportunities, upholds the human rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities through social dialogue and stakeholder engagement, respects the sovereignty of peoples over natural resources, and leaves no one behind. This question is especially critical for the Asia-Pacific region, where the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation due to extractive industries are particularly pronounced.
To inform the United Nations Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises’s thematic report to the UN General Assembly’s 78th Session on the “Extractive Sector, Just Transition and Human Rights,” this session will be convened as a multi-stakeholder consultation to distil how just, inclusive, and rights-based energy transition programs, investments and projects can be designed and implemented in ways that advance the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).
The key objectives of this session are to:
Identify key concerns related to the adverse human rights impacts of energy transition programs and policies;
Discuss the limitations of existing reform proposals (including the Paris Agreement) and highlight optimal approaches in emerging National Action Plans and legislation on business and human rights to advance a just and human rights-based energy transition;
Unpack the implications for policy coherence of transition policies that mainstream human rights standards as good practice;
Identify challenges and opportunities vis-à-vis access to remedy in relation to operations in the extractives sector.
Panelists will reflect on the following questions in relation to the Asia-Pacific region:
What are the key concerns related to the adverse human rights impacts of the extractives sector in the context of energy transition activities?
What are the transnational implications of energy transition activities?
What gaps in existing climate change laws and other legislation may worsen the human rights impacts of the extractives sector in the context of energy transition policies and activities?
How can communities seek effective remedies against extractive operators and their business partners for human rights abuses in the context of energy transition policies and activities?