The meeting looked at how financial institutions, in addition to applying human rights due diligence in their business, tackled social issues specific to the region. It also highlighted global trends from the finance and human rights agenda to inform local financial institutions in their approaches to human rights issues, and introduced the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB), developed in 2017 with strong support from investors as a tool enabling businesses to better understand and act on corporate human rights performance.
The webinar, organized jointly by Agence française de développement, the Inter-American Development Bank and UNEP Finance Initiative, will take a glimpse into the current landscape of standards and practices related to indigenous peoples’ rights and stakeholder engagement, with a focus on the free, prior and informed consent principle. It will also consider barriers to the principle implementation and solutions to address them. It will be set up as a platform of knowledge exchange between industry representatives and human rights experts working with indigenous groups and on stakeholder engagement in business.
Since the unanimous endorsement of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), various stakeholder groups – businesses, civil society, intergovernmental platforms – have been working on clarifying the practical implications of the ‘responsibility to respect human rights’ for financial institutions. At the same time, in their journey to sustainability, financial institutions are increasingly showing willingness to contribute to the achievement of global priorities such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. How do these efforts come together in a coherent human rights-aligned sustainable finance agenda? The session provided an overview of industry efforts from the region to advance the implementation of the UNGPs and discussed how to connect – from a human rights perspective – the various sustainability-driven actions of financial institutions, to ultimately arrive at an inclusive, rights-based sustainable finance agenda.
The first UNEP FI meeting on human rights and social issues in Latin America and the Caribbean offered a platform for members in the region – Banco General, Banco Galicia, Suramericana and Itaú Unibanco – to share experiences on their approaches to respect human rights and act on their ability to further address social needs. Participants were also introduced to the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB), that UNEP FI has teamed up to share the findings of the benchmark, released in 2017. Finally, regional members and stakeholders were informed about UNEP FI strategic priorities on human rights and social issues for the upcoming years, and were encouraged to give feedback on available options to adapt these to regional needs.
The UN Forum on Business and Human Rights is the leading global event on business and human rights, gathering each year some 2,300 participants from government, business, civil society, law firms, UN bodies, academia and the media.
The Forum focused this year on “Leadership and Leverage: Embedding human rights in the rules and relationships that drive the global economy.” It addressed the role of financial institutions in respect to human rights as one of its three main focus areas.