MEPs must shun calls to weaken curbs on environmental and human rights abuses

(EurActiv, 27 Mar 2019) MEPs face a crucial decision. Will they take heed of the global outcry from the climate strikes, or will they water down key financial regulation to tackle environmental and human rights abuses, ask Rachel Owens and Lis Cunha.

Rachel Owens is the head of EU Advocacy for Global Witness. Lis Cunha is EU Policy Officer at ActionAid International. This op-ed is supported by Oxfam, Global Witness, ShareAction, Action Aid and BHRRC.

Over the last few weeks, millions have marched across Europe as part of the youth climate strikes, and this week, MEPs have a chance to vote, in part, for what so many protested for. On Thursday, this European Parliament has its chance to define a framework for “sustainable investment”, during the vote on a Regulation for a framework to facilitate sustainable investment or the so-called Taxonomy Regulation.

This will go one of two ways. Either MEPs will vote for amendments which set out firmer rules on what a sustainable economic activity for investment purposes is, to ensure that those who pump money into projects without doing proper due diligence can no longer get away with greenwashing, environmental destruction and, crucially, human rights abuses.

Or MEPs will vote to water down these legislative proposals on environmental, social and governance risks (or ESG), which policymakers have determined are crucial for determining what a “sustainable” economic activity is – and choose to focus on only the environmental side, disregarding the social and governance risks.

This is reinforced by a call this week by investors with €1.1 trillion of assets under management for due diligence to address environmental, social and governance risks, including human rights risks.

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EurActiv, 27 Mar 2019: MEPs must shun calls to weaken curbs on environmental and human rights abuses