The power of the law in the climate justice struggle: holding corporations to account globally

Laura Duarte Reyes, Barbara Hermann

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Unravel the dark side of value chains, especially in sectors where environmental degradation, human rights abuses, and deforestation run rampant, fuelling climate change and depriving communities of their fundamental rights.

In our globalized economy, transnational corporations work to dismantle barriers to trade so that commodities, data and money can flow more or less unfettered around the world. This system profits and promotes the interests of businesses in the Global North and elites in developing or newly industrialized countries.
At the other end of the supply chain, however, people and nature in the Global South do not fare so well. Through their value chains, transnational corporations often contribute to human rights violations and ecological degradation leading to the loss of vital biodiversity. This devastation exacerbates the climate crisis, as forests and other ecosystems play a crucial role in carbon sequestration and regulating the Earth's climate.

Peasants, indigenous peoples and other local communities are increasingly bearing the brunt of land grabbing and exposure to toxic chemicals within these supply chains. These violations can strip individuals of their dignity, livelihoods, and fundamental rights. Communities are also paying the price of energy transition projects implemented in disregard of human rights.
Laura and Barbara will discuss the impacts of value chains, legislative progress and shortcomings, as well as the role legal interventions – including strategic lawsuits – can play in holding corporations to account and supporting affected individuals and communities in their struggle for justice. You will also learn more about the importance of ensuring a just energy transition, where respect for human rights is central.

Legal Advisor für Wirtschaft und Menschenrechte
Environmental Law and Policy Expert