PKG Fellowships 2020: Chelsea Hodgkins, Part I
This summer, I have the honor of working with the Mexico team of the Business and Human Rights Resource Center. The Business and Human Rights Resource Center is an international organization that works to end human rights abuses in business practices and increase corporate accountability and transparency. This summer, my work with the Mexico team will be to investigate supply chain risks and allegations of human rights abuses by companies related to renewable energy project development.
In Mexico and Central America, human rights and the rights of indigenous communities are guaranteed under several legal authorities, including their Constitutions. In practice, however, consultative procedures are rarely followed by companies and indigenous and rural communities remain vulnerable to displacement, land grabs, and human rights abuses by the extractive and renewable energy development industries.
What makes this work so timely is that the global transition to a low-carbon economy is increasing demand for land to mine the critical minerals that make renewable technologies and to site solar, wind, and other renewable energy projects. This exacerbates threats to indigenous and peasant communities, who tend to be the inhabitants and defenders of the areas most sought for renewable energy projects.
The transition also presents a tremendous and significant opportunity for these groups to improve the safety and wellbeing of their communities and the natural environment. The research I am doing this summer will support the Center in expanding community-based work, like human rights trainings and clinics for communities and grassroots organizations; reporting on business practices to assist in policy and legal advocacy efforts; and mapping supply chain risks in the renewable energy sector.
I am very driven to learn how, as a global society, we can achieve a just energy transition through policies and practices that foster the technological solutions at the pace and scale needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, while also preserving human rights and dignity. I am grateful to be working with such an incredible team on this topic exactly this summer and look forward to sharing more in the next post about what I’ve learned!