On 13 December 2017, the 7th annual CSR Round Table focused on the transition to green economies, including green finance, green jobs, and environmental rights. As always, the CSR Round Table took an inclusive look at this topic. The organizers encouraged participants to share the different approaches taken by different agencies and organizations to how environmental issues are intersecting with the world of business, employment, finance, economic development and human rights. The 7th Annual Round-Table looked at this topic from three perspectives:
In recent years the world has set unprecedented targets for the way we interact with our environment, through landmark agreements such as the Paris Agreement at COP21 and the Sustainable Development Goals. However, achieving these targets will require innovative new forms of finance and investment, what we often refer to as ‘green finance’. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that investment in low-carbon technologies and energy efficiency alone needs to increase six-fold to US$2.3 trillion by 2035 to achieve the climate, and US$90 trillion in sustainable infrastructure assets more broadly is needed to deliver on the SDGs and Paris Agreement. As a mechanism for facilitating the transition to a less polluting and less resource-intensive global economy, green finance offers an important contribution to a number of the environmental challenges the world is facing. It could prevent or reduce the impact of future market failures and promote resilience and financial stability.
This session aimed to explore how agencies can encourage businesses to engaging with green finance, through corporate reporting, green bonds and green equity instruments, and how the financial sector can hold businesses environmentally responsible.
Green jobs are decent jobs that contribute to preserve or restore the environment, be they in traditional sectors such as manufacturing and construction, or in new, emerging green sectors such as renewable energy and energy efficiency. Governments have a key role to play in encouraging businesses to produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment while also fostering quality jobs which respect workers’ rights and ensuring a just transition to sustainable production and consumption patterns.
This session aimed to explore how agencies can better support governments and the private sector to create green jobs.
The environment, business and human rights
National legislation and litigation increasingly recognizes the links between human rights and the environment. The right to a healthy environment is now recognized in more than 100 national jurisdictions. States have clear human rights obligations to prevent the adverse impacts of environmental degradation on the enjoyment of human rights and to protect environmental human rights defenders. According to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, businesses have an independent responsibility to respect human rights, do no harm, and exercise human rights due diligence in carrying out their activities. In the event that environmental and human rights harms occur, States must ensure rights-holders have access to effective remedies. In practice more clarity is needed in terms of channels for access to effective remedy.
This session aimed to explore the activities of business in respecting the human right to a healthy environment and the emerging channels for access to remedy where this right is not respected.
Documents discussed in the 2017 CSR Round-Table
- ILO (2017) Work in a changing climate: The Green Initiative
- ILO (2017) Green Jobs
- ILO (2015) Guidelines for a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all
- OHCHR (2017) OHCHR Accountability and Remedy Project
- Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative (2017) How stock exchanges can grow green finance, A voluntary action plan
- United Nations Zambia (2017) Green Jobs Programme
- United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commision (2017) UN Special Procedures Complaint Mechanism
||Registration and morning Coffee
|10:00-10:30||Opening comments and introduction of moderator
• Introduction of Moderator: H.E. Marc Bichler, Ambassador–at–large for Human Rights and Climate Change for the Government of Luxembourg
|10:30-12:00||Session 1: Green Finance|
|13:00-14:30||Session 2: Green Jobs|
|15:00-16:30||Session 3: The Environment, Business and Human Rights|
||Wrap up and closing comments