July Monthly Briefing: Heightened Focus on Human & Labour Rights

Our focus this month is on human and labour rights – earlier this year our forward-looking Actions for Business report anticipated growing interest in the topic. This has proved timely, given the evident challenges in switching to a “green tech” future at the speed governments say they want.

A case in point is accessing essential metals and minerals in the volumes implied in transition plans: we report on the labour rights issues in mining for cobalt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On the wider human rights agenda, our guest contributor is scathing about how few companies have gone beyond platitudes, to the extent of examining their business models – the result being that soft expectations among stakeholders are turning in hard law regulations by governments (such as the coming EU due diligence directive). In response, my colleagues offer a four-step approach for practitioners wanting to get a grip on this agenda.

Wider still, is what this green transition really means for people who are impacted – or as the Paris Agreement also calls it, climate justice. This is usually seen in terms of the impact on jobs and livelihoods from a shift in technology, but has broader implications too. It’s no

coincidence, therefore, that this month we are publishing our own report, Getting your business ready to drive a Just Transition. After reviewing the issues at stake and setting out a business case, it spotlights three sectors through case studies and offers an agenda for action around assessing, engaging, acting and amplifying.

Our own research confirms other studies in showing that only a small minority of businesses are even looking at this question. Perhaps they are leaving it to governments. Trouble is, those are under pressure too, whether from gilets jaunes protesters in France, farmers in the Netherlands or motorists in suburban London. Everyone is learning that counting molecules of CO2 or NOx is the easy part – helping people through the change is much, much harder.

Visit the July Monthly Briefing here.

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