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Natural Resources and Just Energy Transition

Energy, minerals, land and water sit at the heart of the transition to low-carbon economies, and at the start of every supply chain. However, the use of our planet's resources is all too often entwined with human rights abuse. At the other end of the value chain - renewable energy developers must also ensure they respect human rights to retain public support.
Find out why we must ensure that the transition is both fast and fair.

Extractive companies have had adverse impacts on a broad array of human rights, such as resettlement of communities without adequate consultation and compensation; environmental degradation and its effects on health, sources of livelihood and access to clean water; as well as charges of forced labor, rape and even extrajudicial killings by security forces protecting company assets, with some cases meeting the legal definition of corporate complicity.
John Ruggie, Former UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights

Natural resources are at the beginning of every supply chain. Their development is essential to the production of energy, consumer goods and food. This means that there are high stakes involved in their use, development and depletion. Natural resources can therefore be a great source of wealth for both governments and local communities, and bring benefits to all citizens. In practice, however, investments in oil, gas, coal, minerals, renewable energy, and large-scale agriculture are often entwined with human rights abuses. This is particularly the case in some of the world’s poorest – but most resource-rich – countries. Under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, it is the responsibility of the companies developing these resources, as well as their buyers and investors, to safeguard the human rights of workers and communities affected by their activities.

In this “Big Issue” area, discover sector-specific analysis, initiatives, and news coverage.

Just energy transition

Just energy transition principles for human rights in business and investment

Impacts of the global climate crisis are multiplying quickly, and particularly for Indigenous and marginalised communities. But the transition cannot come at their expense. A just transition to clean energy must centre on three core principles: shared prosperity, human rights and social protection, and fair negotiations.

Shared prosperity models & Indigenous leadership for a just transition

News and resources from Indigenous Peoples Rights International and Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, exploring the significant opportunity of Indigenous co-ownership of renewable energy projects, for an energy transition that is fast, just, and equitable.

Learning from success in renewable energy: Indigenous leadership & shared prosperity

Joan Carling and Phil Bloomer underscore the golden opportunity we have to deliver true, shared prosperity, with good jobs, resilient livelihoods, healthier environments and thriving communities.

Research and publications

Renewable Energy and Human Rights Benchmark 2023

A rights-respecting renewable energy sector will be vital if we are to deliver a fast and fair energy transition. Our third global Renewable Energy & Human Rights Benchmark examines the human rights policies and practices of 28 of the largest wind and solar developers and manufacturers.

Transition Minerals Tracker

Tracking the human rights implications of the mineral boom powering the transition to a low-carbon economy

Investing in renewable energy to power a just transition

Investors should influence the development of a renewable energy industry that respects human rights, including through its mineral supply chains

Regional briefings

Explore our latest regional briefings, looking at business & human rights challenges in the extraction of transition minerals and in the deployment of renewable energy projects across diverse geographies.

Video: The green transition

The green transition that we desperately need is not immune to the problems of the energy revolutions of the past. In this video, part of a series by Earthrise, the Resource Centre's Phil Bloomer joins Jack Harries and Joi Lee to outline the issue of green colonialism and the power shift needed for a just transition.