Renewable Energy & Human Rights Benchmark Methodology

This benchmark methodology establishes the first-ever set of indicators against which renewable energy companies’ human rights policies and practices can be evaluated both on an individual company level and in comparison to their industry peers. The pilot benchmark, including company names and scores, will be released in 2020. It will aim to create a race to the top on human rights in the renewable energy sector, bolstered by investors, in support of a just transition to a low-carbon economy.  

Methodology and Indicators      Blog

The need for a global transition to a low-carbon economy is urgent. However, this shift will only result in a sustainable low-carbon future if respect for human rights underpins it from the outset as part of a just transition. Many of the same human rights abuses associated with the extractives and agribusiness industries are now occurring in renewable energy projects and supply chains, and early indications show this industry is ill-prepared to address them.  

Increased investment in renewable energy must be coupled with corporate human rights due diligence to ensure companies respect the rights of indigenous and affected communities as well as labour rights throughout supply chains. 

Methodology Overview 

1) Core United Nations (UN) Guiding Principles indicators from the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark: 

  • Theme A: Governance and Policy Commitments 

  • Theme B: Embedding Respect and Human Rights Due Diligence  

  • Theme C: Remedies and Grievance Mechanisms  

2) Renewable Energy Sector-Specific indicators: 

  • Theme D: Indigenous Peoples’ and Affected Communities’ Rights  

  • Theme E: Land Rights  

  • Theme F: Security and High-Risk Contexts  

  • Theme G: Human Rights and Environmental Defenders  

  • Theme H: Labour, Health, and Safety 

  • Theme I: Right to a Healthy and Clean Environment  

  • Theme J: Transparency and Anti-Corruption  

  • Theme K: Equality and Inclusion 

The indicators aim to be both ambitious and achievable, with scoring options to differentiate between companies that do not meet basic expectations, those that have some commitments and practices in place, and those that demonstrate a serious commitment to proactive and agile human rights due diligence. 

Advisory Group 

We are grateful to representatives from the following organisations who participated in the expert advisory group: 

  • Amazon Conservation Team 

  • Boston Common Asset Management 

  • Corporate Human Rights Benchmark 

  • Danish Institute for Human Rights 

  • Earthworks 

  • Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, LSE

  • Heartland Initiative 

  • Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility  

  • Investor Alliance for Human Rights 

  • International Trade Union Confederation 

  • Principles for Responsible Investment 

  • REN21 

  • Resolve 

  • Right Energy Partnership 

  • Solidarity Center 

  • SOMO (Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations) 

  • The B Team 

  • Transform Finance

  • Bobbi Kates-Garnick and Miquel Muñoz Cabré of Tufts University also contributed valuable insights to the project through the advisory group in their personal capacity

Additional Resources 

For more information on the topic of renewable energy and human rights, see the Resource Centre’s previous publications here.