Our key takeaway: IHRB's forecast of priority human rights for businesses in 2024 offers a forward-looking perspective. It considers human rights impacts in the “small places close to home,” as Eleanor Roosevelt put it in 1958 – such as farms, offices, factories and cities – but also farther and wider spaces, such as the online world, space, and oceans, where human rights and nature impacts will continue to grow in coming decades. (1) For farms, safeguarding the rights of agricultural workers and smallholder farmers (i.e., income, safety and livelihoods) amid the challenges posed by climate change and automation is seen as the key priority. (2) In factories, businesses are called to embrace collective empowerment and new partnerships between workers and employers, as technology reshapes the factory floor. (3) In offices, businesses will need to respond to employee desires for greater flexibility and wellbeing, and address equity and mental health concerns. (4) Online, respecting rights will require balancing free expression with the urgent need to combat hate speech and disinformation. (5) In mines, as well as in other infrastructure projects emerging in the development of a green economy, companies are being called on to learn from past mistakes and maximise the social benefits of the green rush for transition minerals. (6) Oceans are framed as a spaces for ensuring that rights protections and shared prosperity are at the heart of a sustainable blue economy. (7) Space is described as a frontier that demands establishing standards and accountability for emerging industries working beyond Earth’s atmosphere. (8) Cities are understood to be growing spaces where smart, green, inclusive, and equitable infrastructure will be needed. (9) Borders are expected to see growing migration, and we are called to build on its benefits while protecting migrant worker rights. And (10) the natural world, the space of life, increasingly demands the development of business strategies that halt and reverse nature loss and its associated human rights impacts. The selection of these ten spaces as the new frontiers for human rights issues for business activities underscores how important it is for companies to integrate sustainability, climate, environmental and human rights considerations into core business strategies. The complexity and diversity of the challenges ahead also shows why companies will need to embrace a holistic approach to business practices, aligning human rights due diligence, technical developments and environmental sustainability, for business, people and nature to thrive in coming years.
Ten places and new frontiers to watch for responsible business practices, according to IHRB’s “2024 Top 10 Business and Human Rights Issues: New Frontiers”: