Mapping the Renewable Energy Sector to the Sustainable Development Goals: An Atlas

New briefing finds that renewable energy companies can make positive contributions to all 17 Sustainable Development Goals and that respecting human rights is vital to advancing the SDGs.

Briefing  Press Release

The renewable energy industry is instrumental to the achievement of all of the SDGs. Given the urgency and scale at which renewables must be deployed to meet the world’s sustainable development and climate goals, it is critical that the industry understand its potential impacts—both positive and negative—on all of the SDGs. 

As this report by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, Equitable Origin and the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network details, renewable energy project developers and operators can best support the achievement of the SDGs by incorporating responsible and human rights-respecting practices into their core business operations and collaborat­ing with other stakeholders to amplify impact.

The report serves as a guide for renewable energy companies to maximize contributions to all of the goals, with specific actions recommended for each goal to help build responsible practices into core business operations and to collaborate with other stakeholders, including affected communities, peer companies, and governments to amplify impact.

Companies can align conduct to the SDGs by prioritizing the following actions:

  1. Increase access to clean, sustainable energy through renewable energy production.
  2. Share the benefits of renewable development with local communities in the form of access to electricity, cost savings, rents and fees, and infrastructure.
  3. Collaborate with governments, grid operators, utilities, and other stakeholders to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
  4. Treat host communities as partners, conduct inclusive community consultations prior to project development through project closure, and respect land tenure and indigenous peoples’ collective rights to land, territories, and resources.
  5. Train and employ local workers and source goods and services domestically where possible to contribute to economic development.
  6. Adopt strong labor policies in line with the ILO Core Conventions, including paying workers living wages and providing benefits, protecting employees from discrimination and work-related safety risks, preventing child and forced labor, and respecting workers’ rights to bargain collectively and associate freely.
  7. Adopt human rights policies and perform human rights due diligence in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, including by conducting consultative human rights and environmental impact assessments and mitigating any negative impacts and externalities throughout project life.
  8. Develop systems to identify and monitor supply chain impacts, especially as they relate to scope 3 GHG emissions, environmental impacts, labor protections, human rights abuses, and tax avoidance, and require suppliers, joint venture partners, and other business partners to respect human rights.
  9. Introduce accessible grievance mechanisms in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’ effectiveness criteria, designed and monitored with communities and workers.

Read the full briefing Mapping the Renewable Energy Sector to the Sustainable Development Goals: An Atlas