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Mining in province of Espinar in the Cusco region of Peru, negatively impacts communities and the environment. Credit: Lucy Jardine, CAFOD

CAFOD's policy and research papers examining the effect that the operations of multinational companies have on local communities and recommending policy change.

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

  • The 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 supply chains.

Key areas of work

CAFOD is calling for:

  • Local community control and decision-making over land, water and forests.

  • Effective legislation to ensure businesses respect for human rights and the environment.

  • Access to justice for those harmed by company actions.

  • Circular and regenerative business models, and a rebalancing of corporate governance away from a singular focus on shareholder profit.

  • Changes to our own lifestyles, to how and what we produce, consume and dispose.

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.

Case studies


Case study: Cerrejon coal mine in Colombia

People living in communities in La Guajira, Colombia, have repeatedly denounced harm to their livelihoods, cultural identity and environment as a result of a coal-mining company that has links to the UK.


Case study: Gold mining in Brazil

Gold sold on our high streets could be linked to the destruction of indigenous communities’ lives and the environment in the Brazilian Amazon.

Key documents


Gold Mining in Yanomami Indigenous Territory (TIY)

This briefing outlines the scale of human rights abuse and environmental destruction caused by illegal gold mining in Yanomami Indigenous Territory, in the Brazilian Amazon, and outlines recommendations for the UK government and British businesses to tackle this issue.


How to achieve decent green jobs?

We are out of time for treating human and environmental needs as two separate and competing priorities. It is time to create decent and green jobs: work designed in a way that gives a decent livelihood to the worker, while counteracting environmental degradation and climate change. Designed in the right way, they can even be transformational: creating a ripple effect of positive change in the social, economic and environmental spheres.


Thinking small

CAFOD's 'think small' work explores the ways in which small businesses can be supported and empowered.

Policy and research

CAFOD's policy team provides briefings, reports and research on our advocacy and lobbying work, plus materials to support our campaigns.