“The responsibility to respect human rights requires that business enterprises: (a) Avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts through their own activities and address such impacts when they occur; (b) Seek to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to their operations, products or services by their business relationships.” Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights (United Nations, 2011)
In a recent move to more comprehensively target the assessment of human rights issues encountered during the execution of our Environmental and Social (E&S) Performance services, our core E&S team (Netherlands, United Kingdom, and South Africa) obtained certification in Human Rights Impact Assessment. The training, conducted by the Enact Human Rights and Business Practice Group was run over the 22nd & 23rd January 2020 in Amersfoort.
With this training, our objective is to ensure that relevant human rights expertise is integrated into the conduct of the Environmental and Social Due Diligence (ESDD) and Impact Assessment (ESIA) services we deliver to our clients and to have at least two of our senior consultants fully equipped to conduct Human Rights Impact Assessments (HRIA) irrespective of country, industry sector or project stage.
Understanding Human Rights
An authoritative list of the core internationally recognized human rights is contained in the International Bill of Human Rights, coupled with the principles concerning fundamental rights in the eight ILO core conventions as set out in the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
Most relevant rights encountered in our projects are Right to land, Right to an adequate standard of living (incl. housing, water, food and sanitation), Right to Health, Right to enjoy just and favorable conditions of work, Freedom of expression and access to information, Rights of minorities, vulnerable groups and indigenous peoples, Equality and non-discrimination, etc.
A Return on Investment
As part of the impact assessment and due diligence we conduct in line with IFC Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability, we already cover human rights issues; however thanks to this training we are now better equipped to identify them according to the normative framework of the UN Guiding Principles and advise our client on how to best avoid, cease, mitigate or remediate them.