Call for a just transition with human rights at the centre
06 November 2022
The climate crisis is among the most critical and complex issues our planet and its people face. COP27 offers a defining moment to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels. But this transition will fail if it focuses only on being fast, and not also just.
A transition to low-carbon and renewable energy is necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming. But the energy transition must be environmentally sustainable, socially just and equitable. It must be founded on the principles of human rights and protect the rights of communities and indigenous people – including the right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) – whose lives are affected by renewable energy infrastructures.
Research from Swedwatch and other organizations has shown that the production of renewable energy in low-income countries is often connected to negative impact on both the environment and people, and that this is very rarely recognized by states or companies. For instance, affected communities seldom get compensation or remedy. This sector is also one of the most dangerous ones to work with for environmental rights defenders who often face threats and violence.
“The just transition framework needs to place affected and marginalized communities at the centre of the global transition to a clean energy future. The energy transition must also be inclusive of communities by providing them with access to modern energy services. Inclusive development and poverty reduction should be priorities from the outset, and clean energy should be made accessible to all groups in society. Local communities should be empowered to share the socio-economic benefits of renewable energy projects”, says Davide Maneschi, programme officer climate change at Swedwatch.
At COP27, being held from 6-18 November in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Swedwatch will arrange a side event together with Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) focusing on just transition and the importance of putting indigenous people and local communities at the centre of energy transition processes. The event will centre around cases from Africa that will be presented by African CSOs, including Swedwatch’s partner IMPACT (Indigenous movement or Peace Advancement and Conflict Transformation), an indigenous rights organization which has been working with human rights and social inclusion in Northern Kenya for over 20 years.
“Human rights, land rights, environmental rights and community interests should be at the centre of just energy transition processes. The just energy transition process should not burden communities, displace them from their lands or be a source of conflict”, says Mali Ole Kaunga, founder and director of IMPACT.
The just energy transition process should not burden communities, displace them from their lands or be a source of conflict.
Enabling access to international arenas is a fundamental part of Swedwatch’s work to support rights defenders. At our side event at COP27, indigenous defender Ramson Karmushu from our partner organisation in Kenya will be one of the speakers.
⇒ Read the full interview with Ramson Karmushu.
More on the topic:
Open letter: Swedwatch, together with over 200 other organisations, released an open letter calling the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and State parties to put human rights at the centre of the energy transition discussion at COP27.
In the run up to COP27 Swedwatch and several other organisations signed a petition, expressing a great concern about the human rights situation in Egypt and in particular the government’s restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, and that it could undermine a successful, inclusive and participatory climate summit.
Article: Stockholm+50 must demonstrate progress towards environmental and climate justice
Policy paper: Time for Swedish leadership in a carbon free export finance