Climate Change and the UNGPs

Climate change impacts the enjoyment and/or realisation of all human rights, though the impact may be felt differently and disproportionately by different individuals and groups. Climate change also has a bearing on the achievement of all Sustainable Development Goals, not least Goal 13 (take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts).   

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) do not address climate change explicitly. Nevertheless, the UNGPs are relevant to climate mitigation efforts on the part of States, businesses and other stakeholders. For example, as part of their Pillar I duty under the UNGPs, States would be expected to take a range of effective measures to protect against business-related climate change within their territory and/or jurisdiction. Similarly, business enterprises may not be able to discharge their responsibility to respect all internationally recognised human rights unless they integrate climate change considerations into their human rights due diligence processes. Diverse judicial and non-judicial mechanisms are also being used to seek remedies against both States and businesses for causing, contributing to, or failing to prevent climate change.

Building on existing climate change standards, its prior work and sessions organised at the UN Forum in 2019 and 2018, the Working Group on Business and Human Rights will develop an Information Note on what all three pillars of the UNGPs entail for States and business enterprises in relation to climate change. We hope that this Note will provide practical guidance to all relevant stakeholders. Further information will be posted on this webpage in due course.

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Working Group on Business and Human Rights
Palais des Nations, 8-14, Avenue de la Paix. 1211 Geneva 10
Tel: +41 22 917 9159

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