3 Shifts / Mitigate
Mitigate Negative Impacts

Prevent Rights Violations

Protect human, civil and environmental rights


In a digitally connected world, the question of how to respect, protect and implement human rights and create access to environmental justice is becoming paramount. As ever more people, organizational systems and technical devices transition online, realizing human rights in online settings is becoming an essential consideration in the emerging governance framework. Human rights such as freedom of expression, privacy, free assembly, child rights, Indigenous land rights, or the right to a fair trial, are all heavily impacted by new digital technologies.

Three important domains in the digital space need specific attention linked to environmental and social sustainability. First, human rights abuses linked to land use conflicts in mining minerals needed to power a green digital future, including cobalt, graphite, copper, and rare earths, particularly in lands inhabited by and/or managed by Indigenous Peoples and local communities. Second, human rights violations in the form of digital surveillance and digital reprisals against environmental and human rights defenders, whistle blowers, journalists, and political dissidents. Third, violations of online data privacy by independent actors, private organizations and state governments. Human rights and access to environmental justice need to be safeguarded in the development, implementation, legislation, and governance of digital technologies. They need to be entrenched and realized at every step of the value-chain of digital technologies.

Priority needs to be made for a new generation of rights protection and grievance mechanisms in the digital age, as enabled by digital technology solutions such as secure multi-party computation as well as personal data control. Finally, children under 18 make up one-third of all internet users, and youth (15-24 year olds) are the leading internet usage cohort.

Globally, 71 per cent of youth use the internet, compared with 57 per cent of the other age groups. Considering both human and child rights, as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, is thus essential to create an inclusive and right-based digital environment for all. Priority must also be given to the application of CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance, and regulations around data must not just be limited to usage but considered to include (but not be limited to) environmental, social, economic, historical, cultural, and resource data. Such principles should consider the rights and protection of non-human entities.