Tuesday, November 28 • 15:00 - 16:20
Realizing the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment: progress and opportunities for human rights due diligence and the environment in practice

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(Version française ci-jointe)
(Versión en español adjunta)

Session co-organized by the Working Group on Business and Human Rights, Environmental Resources Management, Helpdesk on Business and Human Rights, Sedex, Shift, UNDP, and UN Global Compact Brazil 

Interpretation provided in English, French and Spanish.  

Brief description of the session:
In July 2022, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a landmark resolution recognising a human right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. It called on States, international organisations, business enterprises, and other relevant stakeholders to scale up efforts to realise this right for all. The resolution represents the latest global recognition that sustainable development, the protection of the environment and the enjoyment of human rights are inextricably linked and should be addressed in a holistic and coordinated way. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) also offer a set of benchmarks for States, business enterprises and other stakeholders to coherently advance respect for human rights and environmental protection in all economic sectors.

But what do these instruments mean in practice for States and businesses? While the interlinkages between environmental and human rights are not new, significant gaps remain to translate the growing awareness into effective protection and remedy frameworks that advance corporate responsibility for human rights and the environment. Going forward, advancing effective implementation and change will require managing environmental aspects as an integral part of business human rights due diligence and as a baseline expectation on businesses around the world. The increasing adoption of mandatory environmental and human rights due diligence legislations in many countries and regions is a case in point.

The session will discuss challenges and opportunities for States and businesses in ensuring holistic and coordinated implementation approaches that advance the human right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment in practice.

Key objectives of the session: 
  • Examine ways in which the recognition of the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment has the potential to strengthen a human rights-based approach to environmental protection and result in tangible impacts for rights holders; 
  • Evaluate how existing and emerging human rights due diligence frameworks are effective in promoting protection and respect of the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment, particularly for communities most vulnerable to environmental harms; 
  • Explore the role of holistic, coordinated, and collaborative approaches to advance the effective implementation of human rights and environmental due diligence processes and practice; 
  • Delve into the role of meaningful stakeholder engagement, with a specific focus on the equal participation of rights-holders, in particular indigenous peoples, women, young people, and human rights defenders as an essential element of preventing and addressing adverse environmental and human rights impacts; and 
  • Discuss how to strengthen avenues to access to remedy in cases of environmental harm. 

avatar for Damilola Olawuyi

Damilola Olawuyi

Chairperson, Working Group on business and human rights
Damilola S. Olawuyi, is a Professor and UNESCO Chair on Environmental Law and Sustainable Development at the Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Qatar. He is also the director of the Institute for Oil, Gas, Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development at the Afe Babalola University... Read More →

avatar for Livio Sarandrea

Livio Sarandrea

Global Adviser on Business and Human Rights, UNDP
Livio Sarandrea, is UNDP’s Global Adviser on Business and Human Rights. IN this function he coordinates a team of 50+ experts supporting the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in 39 countries across five continents. Livio is based in Geneva.In... Read More →
avatar for David Boyd

David Boyd

Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment
David R. Boyd is an associate professor of law, policy, and sustainability at the University of British Columbia. He has a PhD in Resource Management and Environmental Studies from UBC, a law degree from the University of Toronto, and a business degree from the University of Alberta... Read More →
avatar for Alexandra Guaqueta

Alexandra Guaqueta

Global Service Lead, Social Impact & Human Rights, ERM
Dr. Alexandra Guáqueta is ERM’s Global Service Lead for Social Impact & Human Rights. She utilizes her industry background to support corporate leadership teams in the formulation and implementation of ESG policies involving multi-disciplinary teams across climate, environment... Read More →
avatar for Katharina Hermann

Katharina Hermann

Head of, German Helpdesk on Business & Human Rights
Katharina Hermann is a Vice President KfW-DEG Impulse, an affiliate of Germany's Development Finance Institution KfW-DEG. She built and runs the German Helpdesk on Business & Human Rights, a publicly funded advisory service for companies and business associations on the implementation... Read More →
avatar for Bashir Twesigye

Bashir Twesigye

Executive Director, Civic Response on Environment and Development - Uganda
Bashir is a lawyer with more than 15 years of experience working with communities. He works for the Civic Response on Environment and Development - an NGO that supports communities affected by the exploration and development of oil and gas in Uganda. He is a member of professional... Read More →

Tuesday November 28, 2023 15:00 - 16:20 CET
Room XIX