States are gathering in Egypt on Sunday for the COP27 UN climate summit where the importance of pushing for human rights-based climate action that prioritizes building resilience to modern slavery is paramount.
Egypt has come under scrutiny for its alarming human rights record and increasingly stringent restrictions on human rights and environmental activists, media, freedom of association, and free speech in the country. As hosts of COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, this brings into question the effectiveness of this year’s climate summit in a context where activism is so heavily curtailed and the voices of activists will be intentionally silenced.
A just transition – the social changes needed to move to a low carbon economy – must not be built on the back of forced labor and modern slavery. Efforts to reduce emissions, such as the transition to solar power, cannot rely on forced labor and an exploited workforce in its supply chain.
Climate justice without modern slavery now!
As governments and international organizations pursue solutions to tackle the climate crisis and achieve a sustainable future, we are urging world leaders to commit to a transition to renewable energy whilst ensuring forced labor in mineral extraction and manufacturing is eradicated. That means ensuring robust mandatory human rights due diligence legislation is enforced in the procurement of renewables contracts to hold companies accountable for forced labor and prevent exploitation in supply chains as we build a new energy mix for the future.
Environment director at Human Rights Watch, Richard Pearshouse said:
“Before delegations have set foot in Egypt, authorities have already shown their true colors by clamping down on any Egyptian who dares to call attention to the dire human rights situation in the country,” Pearshouse said. “Governments attending COP27 have a responsibility to call out Egypt’s rhetoric around tolerance and openness as what it is, empty and meaningless, and to urge Egyptian authorities to end rights restrictions.”
We recognize the need for urgent climate action rooted in human rights as a priority. That’s why we are calling on global leaders to ensure the just transition prioritizes building resilience to modern slavery and embraces this as an opportunity to further develop human rights due diligence frameworks for a truly just transition to a low carbon economy.
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