Climate change is an urgent human rights issue

Institutional investors are uniquely placed to mitigate and address climate-related human rights risks. However, our research indicates that institutional investors are still prioritising environmental impacts over harm to humans when addressing climate change risk in their portfolios.

Global temperature rises, associated biodiversity loss, rising sea levels and extreme weather events negatively impact our security, food, water, health and the habitability of our homes and cities. Forced displacement and the increased risk of conflict due to competition for scarce resources threaten all human rights, including the right to life. Without adequate planning, even the shift away from fossil fuels itself may have a severe impact on rights.

A guide for institutional investors

KPMG and the Responsible Investment Association Australasia have come together to bring you this guide which:

  • Supports investors to understand their responsibilities and embrace the opportunities presented by this moment in time.
  • Incorporates material from in-depth research interviews with institutional investors and other key stakeholders to give insight into leading practice and case studies of practical approaches.
  • Offers practical steps and key first principles information to which investors can return as they shape and mature their response by focusing on risk to people and applying a human rights lens to climate risk assessments.

Considerations for institutional investors

Five things to consider for institutional investors.

  • Environmental and social risk assessments are often siloed, meaning that climate-related human rights impacts are inadequately addressed. This gap must be addressed as an urgent matter of prudent risk management.
  • It is important for investors to manage climate-related human rights risk in order to adequately discharge fiduciary and directors’ duties.
  • Global trends in regulation, litigation and social expectation represent significant risk for investors who fail to engage with climate-related human rights impacts in their portfolios.
  • Embedding consideration of climate-related human rights risk into strategy and processes offers institutional investors the chance to harness the opportunities that decarbonisation and the shift towards more sustainable systems present.
  • Assessing climate-related human rights risks also requires taking a long-term view and considering not only current risks to people but also the future impact on the human rights of the children of today and those who are yet to be born.

The tide has turned. As the business community and governments move towards net zero there is an unmistakable intersection between planet and people. Investors need to be alive to the risks and embrace the opportunities to lead. Placing human rights impacts at the centre of your analysis of climate change will give depth to your responsiveness and help us transition justly.

Richard Boele
Chief Purpose Officer/Partner in Charge KPMG Banarra
KPMG Australia

More information

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