Business, Human Rights, and the Environment

Businesses, especially those in the extractive minerals sector, are pivotal players in driving the green transition. However, this sector has been associated with severe human rights issues such as land grabbing, forced displacement, and pollution. Consequently, the increased demand for transition materials may worsen human rights abuses, particularly in producing countries.

Human rights and environmental due diligence (HREDD) offer a framework to mitigate harm and promote human rights in these sectors, yet many companies have failed to integrate it effectively into their operations. Furthermore, marginalized communities affected by unsustainable practices often remain excluded from the due diligence process. This underscores the urgent need to establish inclusive HREDD approaches involving all stakeholders. 

In the Asia Pacific region, progress has been made in addressing business, human rights, and environmental concerns despite challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical uncertainties. Several states have adopted or are developing National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights (NAP), outlining their commitment to implementing the UN Guiding Principles. However, significant challenges persist, as evidenced by benchmarks tracking business practices and reports from civil society organizations. Efforts to integrate business, human rights, and environmental concerns into education and research also have advanced, with many universities offering courses on these topics. However, more action is needed to ensure such education reaches business and management schools, particularly in regions outside the Global North. 

RAPP 2 aims to strengthen compliance with evolving regulatory landscapes, focusing on EU regulations and Just Energy Transition Partnerships (JETPs). By fostering inclusive due diligence processes and multi-stakeholder engagement, RAPP 2 seeks to contribute to global goals on energy transitions. It will prioritise academia-business partnerships and produce case studies on critical sectors like extractive minerals and biofuels in target countries, disseminating findings regionally and globally. 

Get in touch

Victor Bernard

Victor Bernard

Regional Asia-Pacific Programme

E-mail: victor.bernard@rwi.lu.se

Victor Bernard is a researcher and development professional with a passion for strengthening the interlinkages between human rights and the environment. Having joined the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (RWI) in 2018, he spearheaded the design and implementation of its regional capacity building initiatives, targeting judges, prosecutors and national human rights institutions across Asia and the Pacific. These initiatives aimed to strengthen these stakeholders’ capacity on leveraging human rights and gender equality to fill the legal and enforcement gaps in environmental and climate change law.

Bernard has also published extensively on displacement in climate change and disaster contexts, human rights in national adaptation processes, and the right to a healthy environment. He has presented his research in several international forums, including the Conferences of the Parties under the UNFCCC. Prior to this, Bernard has led projects related to environment and climate change, conflict and development, countering violent extremism, and the development-humanitarian nexus at the British Embassy in Bangkok (Thailand), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sweden), and the Asia Foundation (Thailand).

Bernard holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of York, and a master’s degree in International Law from the University of Edinburgh.

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