Devil in the details: The evolving responsibilities of energy companies in conflict-affected areas

Policy Briefing

Thematic Track: Addressing climate change through just transitions

Devil in the details: The evolving responsibilities of energy companies in conflict-affected areas

United Nations Development Programme, Heartland Initiative
  • 31/10/2023 @ 11:00 - 12:30
  • Conference Center C1 (pétale 5) and Online

 This policy briefing will explore the human rights and environmental issues that companies must address to be aligned with emerging regulation and best practice in conflict-affected settings, including the EU’s draft Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD), the UNDP and UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights guide, Heightened Human Rights Due Diligence for Business in Conflict‑Affected Contexts (“the Guide”), and evolving practice on human rights and environmental due diligence (HREDD). The policy briefing will also explore the peace dividends that heightened HREDD can deliver in conflict-affected settings.

According to the World Bank[1], climate change, environment degradation, and conflict are strongly correlated: natural resources were a source of contention in one in four global crises and conflicts in 2014-18. In addition, up to 70 per cent of the most climate-vulnerable countries are also among the most fragile. Conflict-environment linkages particularly affect vulnerable populations. Structural gender inequalities, discriminatory laws, and adverse gender norms put women and girls at a further disadvantage to cope with conflict and climate-related shocks, given they lack equal access to land, property, and other assets.

Considering the critical role played by the energy industry in a just transition, as well as the potential for conflict stemming from the just transition, this session will focus on the severe and systemic human rights and environmental risks associated with company supply chains in emerging markets impacted by conflict. In particular, the briefing will identify those supply chain risks – child labor, soil & water contamination, conflict financing – that present the greatest threats to local stakeholders and their environments, which can then be prioritized by energy companies during their due diligence processes. Importantly, such a prioritization exercise will lend focus to disclosure requirements and recommendations by the CSDDD, Guide, and HREDD, providing actionable information to civil society, companies, and investors advancing responsible business conduct in these conflict-affected markets. The session will also highlight how such efforts reduce conflict risks and help build peace.

To achieve these objectives, the policy briefing will feature experts on the CSDDD, Guide and HREDD, human rights and the energy industry, and specific conflicts implicated in the industry’s supply chain, that will focus on:

The energy industry’s supply chain risks in conflict-affected contexts including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, and Ukraine;

  • The human rights and environmental due diligence and disclosure requirements and recommendations in the CSDDD, Guide, and HREDD;
  • Prioritized human rights and environmental risks that play an outsized role in harming local stakeholders and their surroundings; and
  • The complementary roles played by CSOs, states, companies, and investors in providing and using disclosed information to advance responsible business conduct and help sustain peace.       


  • Agi Veres, Director, UNDP Representation Office, Geneva, UNDP







[1] Defueling Conflict: Environment and Natural Resource Management as a Pathway to Peace,, last accessed 14 March 2023.