Private sector

Policy and research

Communities around the world are experiencing human rights abuses, environmental destruction and the impacts of climate change as a result of the operations, investments, subsidiaries and supply chains of multinational companies.

This includes:

  • modern slavery
  • removal of communities from their lands or operations on their lands without their consent
  • mass pollution and large-scale deforestation
  • intimidation, abuse and killing of human rights and environmental defenders who resist the presence and operations of business
  • rising sea levels as a result of fossil fuel emissions. 

Many of these impacts are driven by global demand for crops, minerals and energy, which benefit companies and consumers in the UK and other richer nations, while the environmental and social costs of business are pushed down the supply chain. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the burden of risk carried by workers and communities. Because of the huge imbalance in power between communities and large companies, it’s often very difficult for those harmed to get justice for the harms they suffer. 

Recent years have seen an increase of voluntary measures to address companies’ social and environmental impacts – also known as “Corporate Social Responsibility”. But they have failed to prevent harm, or dislodge a primary focus on profit and shareholder value over people and planet.

Key areas of work

CAFOD is calling for:

  1. Local community control and decision-making over land, water and forests.
  2. Effective legislation to ensure businesses respect for human rights and the environment.
  3. Access to justice for those harmed by company actions.
  4. Circular and regenerative business models, and a rebalancing of corporate governance away from a singular focus on shareholder profit.
  5. Changes to our own lifestyles, to how and what we produce, consume and dispose.

Policy and research documents on the private sector

Found 6 results

  • New human rights law The case for new UK legislation to prevent negative business impacts on human rights and the environment

    This MP briefing outlines why CAFOD is calling for a new Business, Human Rights and the Environment Act to hold companies to account when they fail to prevent human rights abuses and environmental harms.

  • Human rights Latin America Land and environmental human rights defenders in Latin America

    A report based on research from 2019 to 2021 on the current trends of human rights abuses faced by land and environmental human rights defenders across six countries in Latin America.

  • Leader or laggard Is the UK meeting its commitments on business and human rights?

    In this report, CAFOD calls for a range of actions from the government, including providing legal remedies for communities and obligations for companies, undertaking impact assessments which are available to the public, and developing a cross-departmental strategy on business and human rights.

  • Access to justice for Bangladeshi migrant workers: Opportunities and challenges Access to justice for Bangladeshi migrant workers: Opportunities and challenges (5mb, pdf)
    Shakirul Islam, Founding Chairman of OKUP

    This research paper aims to highlight the challenges and barriers to justice faced by women and girl migrant workers who fall victim to abuse and exploitation following migration to the Middle East to work in domestic service. Based on the extensive experience of Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program (OKUP) working with women migrant workers, and using detailed evidence from 110 cases of women and girl migrants who survived abuse and exploitation, this paper highlights the gaps in the current justice system and puts forward recommendations for its improvement. The cases were collected as part of OKUP’s ongoing support through the “Empowerment of women and girls migrant workers, communities and key institutions to protect and promote migrant workers’ rights and access to justice” project funded by the European Union and in partnership with the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD).

  • What is inclusive growth? (summary paper) – August 2014 What is inclusive growth? (summary paper) – August 2014 (273kb, pdf)

    This paper summarises the key points of our full “what is inclusive growth” discussion paper considering briefly the context for inclusive growth, a working definition for the concept and some important criteria for those wanting to achieve it. A short case study considering the role that small businesses could play in delivering inclusive growth is also presented.

  • What is inclusive growth? (full paper) – August 2014 What is inclusive growth? (full paper) – August 2014 (397kb, pdf)

    Achieving inclusive growth is increasingly desirable for governments, institutions and donors. But what exactly is it and how do we achieve it? This CAFOD discussion paper considers the context for inclusive growth, proposes a working definition for the concept and identifies some important criteria for those wanting to achieve it. We end the paper with a short case study considering the role that small businesses could play in delivering inclusive growth.

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