What does a recent survey in Asia say about human rights and the environment?

Week of 3 May 2021

What does a recent survey in Asia say about human rights and the environment?

Our key takeaway: A recent survey in Asia confirms both the importance of the inter-connections between the environment and human rights, as well as the lack of awareness of these inter-connections.  

In April 2021, UNDP Business and Human Right in Asia programme (B+HR Asia), in partnership with the EU and UNEP, conducted a survey to capture perceptions of environmental risks and their relationships to human rights. The 609 responses from business and civil society actors, government officials (and others) in Asia found the following:

    • Clear environmental priorities with clear human rights impacts. The most pressing environmental priorities were viewed to be first air pollution, followed by climate change and water pollution/ scarcity. Energy and agri-business industries were identified as the most significant contributors to the first priorities, with waste management and extractives industries identified as the most significant contributor to water pollution/ scarcity. The human rights viewed as the most adversely impacted by environmental harm were the right to health; the right to life; the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment; and the right to food.
    • A range of solutions are possible, including legal and regulatory solutions and procedural rights solutions. Legal and regulatory solutions include investments in stronger and more credible environmental impact assessments and stronger legal frameworks and enforcement. Helpful procedural rights solutions include access to information, access to justice and inclusive decision making. Emphasis is placed on implementation, enforcement and monitoring, to ensure effective actions take place.
    • Lack of awareness of interconnections between the environment and human rights. The survey (and its corresponding webinar this week) underscored the lack of awareness among businesses, governments and other stakeholders of both the environmental human rights issues in the region, as well as the inter-connections between environmental and human rights. Education, sharing of information, consultations and ongoing National Action Plan processes are all opportunities to promote awareness and improve uptake and understanding.

For more, see B+HR Asia, UNEP and EU, Business, Human Rights and the Environment – Survey Summary (22 April 2021)

See also RWI Asia and the Pacific Office by Anisha Rajapakse, The right to a healthy environment in Southeast Asia: The corporate sector (December 2020)



Source: Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), Elevating Stakeholder Voices to the Board: A Guide to Effective Governance (April 2021)