The Climate Change and Environment theme of BHRIGHT illuminates the role that business plays in critical environmental issues such as climate change, biodiversity and pollution, and the impacts this has on human rights. It offers a lens on how climate change impacts the operation of business in Australia’s future ‘carbon constrained economy’; how environmental accountability is key to long term business success, particularly in terms of human rights issues. We conduct research and provide commentary on specific fields of interest such as climate change risk, stakeholder engagement, building standards, transport and mobility, energy consumption, GHG emissions measurement and reporting. The Climate Change and Environment theme intersects with the work of other themes in BHRIGHT, for example in relation to climate refugees and migration, the gendered impact of climate change, and the varied effects of a warmer world on work in supply chains.
BHRIGHT’s Gender theme fosters and furthers multi-disciplinary critical feminist engagement with the business and human rights agenda. We build on an understanding of organizations as ‘inequality regimes’ that frequently institutionalise and perpetuate gender and other forms of inequality across the globe. Collaborating with researchers, as well as practitioners - in business, government and civil society - we aim to assess, and advance, the potential of the new business and human rights agenda to address gender equality, and intersectional oppression. We work to develop the gender, business and human rights research field, and to critique and apply the United Nations (2019) recommendations on the ‘Gender dimensions of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’.
The Gender theme intersects with, and aims to contribute to, other themes of BHRIGHT through, for example, raising questions and highlighting research regarding the gendered nature of global business supply chains, climate change, health, technologies, and business operations in conflict-affected areas.
The Health theme of BHRIGHT explores the boundaries between health, government and business. The human right to the highest attainable standard of health and mental health is a comprehensive human right concerned with the legal, social, political and economic determinants of health and well-being. The human right to health provides a unique lens through which to tackle major questions of law and social policy pertaining to business conduct. It provides a framework for connecting the experiences of individuals with broad systems in which they live, produce and work. Realisation of the human right to health is linked with business in multiple ways. The close connections between health and business has been starkly highlighted by COVID-19. Health, Business and Human Rights will be of continuing significance in the post COVID-19 era where an epidemic of acute mental distress is forecast to emerge alongside economic crisis.
BHRIGHT’s Technology theme tackles some of the biggest human rights issues emerging from the increasing pervasiveness of tech in our daily lives. From Atlassian to Uber; from Canberra to Washington, we are now all interconnected. Actors and organisations across the globe can produce direct or indirect effects on Australians’ human rights. Our work focuses on risks posed by emerging tech to privacy (including children’s privacy), democracy, Economic, Social & Cultural rights, equality and justice. The potential benefits of tech for human rights are also explored, including tracking goods through supply chains, enabling activism and access to knowledge.
Some of the most egregious instances of human rights abuses occur in conflict zones. The Peace and Conflict theme of BHRIGHT serves as a focal point for the Centre and University’s work to examine and analyse the various roles and impacts businesses have in situations of armed conflict and peace-building efforts around the world. Our goal is to positively influence business behaviour in conflict-affected areas, and related public policy and regulation at the domestic and international levels. We do so through scholarly research and collaboration with industry and civil society partners. This work includes the development of practical guidance for businesses and other stakeholders to explore how to achieve more responsible business practices in conflict-affected areas, including respecting the laws of armed conflict and the protection of human rights. Concurrently, the cluster explores the possibilities and perils of the private sector’s involvement in humanitarian and peace-building activities.
Free Business-oriented training modules featured on Australian Red Cross training website. Jonathan Kolieb has contributed to the development of the online modules.
This features several short online modules designed for businesspeople (including sustainability, legal and risk managers) and security personnel:
BHRIGHT’s Labour and Supply chains theme engages with critical issues around corporate responsibility and accountability. Some of the most pressing problems for labour can be traced to national and global supply chains. Debates around what are the best methods around corporate governance, supply chain transparency and due diligence continue. However, the presence of child labour, modern slavery, inequality, the feminisation of work, lack of freedom of association and poor environmental practices remain the wicked problems. Our work encourages approaches to highlight the intersection of supply chain governance, ethical practice, and labour rights. To think around big ideas and promote strategies that contribute to solutions on wicked problems and lead to sharing knowledge and benefit to key actors, in particular affected communities and workers.
Acknowledgement of country
RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business. - Artwork created by Louisa Bloomer