Exploring the ‘Climate-Labor-Security Nexus’ as a New Frontier in the Business and Human Rights Agenda
How does climate change impact the labor market, migration, and human security in South Asia? Environmental degradation and, specifically, climate insecurity constitute cross-cutting challenges that respect no borders and present a genuine shared concern for States, businesses, and affected communities alike. Together, these challenges have given rise to complex crisis scenarios across the South Asian region that not only heighten the risks of social instability with serious implications for jobs and livelihoods, but also spotlight how climate change is fast-becoming a driver of both voluntary and involuntary migration.
The loss of traditional livelihoods, lack of decent work, and mounting food insecurity—combined with disruptive global events like the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic slowdown—are among the myriad factors that are exacerbating the multidimensional vulnerabilities faced by millions of workers across this region. They are also driven, to an increasing degree, by the adverse and often irrevocable effects of climate change, natural disasters, and ecological decline. And there is no doubt that women, persons with disabilities, traditional communities, and Indigenous Peoples are among those worst impacted by these region-wide trends that have generated physical, social and cultural displacement.
Understanding what the ‘Climate-Labor-Security Nexus’ means for migrant workers, especially those in precarious employment and the informal sector, and for human security is thus pivotal to charting a sustainable way forward—one that also takes into due consideration the intersectional implications of this nexus.
The Climate-Labor-Security Nexus represents new realities—if not, a ‘new frontier’ entirely—with which States, businesses, and the broader Business and Human Rights (BHR) community must contend. Doing so requires listening to, and learning from, those individuals and communities impacted, especially workers who are migrating due to their exposure to climate-related hazards and severe vulnerabilities.
Accordingly, this session will bring together expert speakers to discuss the various challenges faced by workers migrating in the context of climate change, whilst considering how their rights can be protected and respected by States and businesses, respectively. The session will be organized in an interactive roundtable format, where speakers will provide succinct remarks to an initial set of questions posed by the moderator, after which questions from the floor to the speakers will be invited.
The key objectives of this session are to:
Unpack the impacts of climate change and environmental insecurity on labor mobility, migration, and human security across South Asia;
Discuss the ways in which the rights of climate change-induced migrant workers can be protected and respected by States, businesses, and international/regional organizations;
Share good practices with regard to how environmental and climate change-related stressors can be managed to prevent and/or mitigate negative impacts on workers’ and human security.
Speakers will reflect on the following set of guiding questions:
What is the evidence base for the Climate-Labor-Security Nexus? How does climate change affect labor migration and human rights?
What are the lived experiences of climate change-inducted migrant workers? Who are the individuals and/or groups most at risk of business-related human rights abuse?
What good practices exist to help manage the precarity and vulnerabilities faced by workers in the context of climate change-induced migration?
How can States, businesses, and international organizations support the needs of such workers?
To what extent is the current BHR agenda prepared to tackle the major challenges presented by this nexus? And how can we lift our gaze as BHR practitioners?