The barriers that hinder the achievement of human rights are those related to extreme poverty, food security and education. However, they are not the only ones, and it is becoming increasingly urgent to pay attention to elements such as decent employment, inequality or the environment preservation. This was stated by Fernando García Casas, Secretary of State for International Cooperation for Ibero-America and the Caribbean (Foreign Matters Ministry ), during the first edition of the International Human Rights Forum: from global to  local, on the occasion of the Human Rights Day.

In addition to highlight the problems, García Casas has evaluated possible ways for human rights to be implemented and defended in our society, from a broad and inclusive approach. For example, with companies, which today are a factor of essential development, although for that they have to go beyond the policies of social responsibility, according to García Casas. “In this regard, there are two main ways of action: the generation of decent jobs in large quantities and the technological transfer”. Involve SMEs and companies that internationalize their activity.

The involvement of administrations through concrete policies and plans is essential for a full integration. “We are very pleased that Spain has a National Plan on Business and Human Rights”, Angel Pes, president of the Spanish Global Compact Network, acknowledged.   In this regard, while inviting reflection as only 18 countries international level have taken this step. In Pes´words “the current challenges in human rights of our country are: the gender equality, the establishmentof a coherent and effective relationship between human rights and SDGs and the quality employment”.

For reasons like this, the event -organized by the Spanish Network, the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO) and El País- has tried to call for reflection on the new challenges the society must cope to ensure compliance with fundamental rights. Thus, thanks to the testimony of experts and representatives of private and social sectors, it has been examined how climate change and poverty have a direct impact on these universal guarantees, how this matter influences the development of cities and what is the role of the private sector.

Climate, cities and companies, the great topics

Regarding to climate change, Marcela Villareal, director of the Division of Associations and South-South Cooperation of the FAO, wanted to highlight the direct link between the climate change and the increase of agrarian and famine problems. “In 2015, 777 million people were suffering from hunger. Today, the figure reaches 815 million”, he said. An alarming fact that demands solutions that involve all levels of society.

In addition, as argued by Pablo Tosco, photojournalist at Intermon Oxfam, it is important to know how to transfer the reality of those who suffer from this situation. «We have to be aware that behind these figures there are faces and concrete voices. And to think of them not only as victims, but as actors of change, «he insisted.

On the other hand, Ana Benavente, manager of Sustainability of Acciona, has recalled the value of the agreement that was reached at COP21 to begin the transition towards a low carbon economy. «We have to be all together. For example, in Acciona we are going to invest around 2.5 billion dollars in renewable energy, much of it in developing countries, «he said.

The private sphere offers a great margin of action in the matter of human rights and sustainable development. «Within large companies, there are many tools to lead the change we need. Now, the important thing is human traceability: human rights generate human responsibilities, so we have to move faster and faster», said Kavita Parmar, founder and creative director of IOU Project.

Fernando Ruiz, Director of Sustainability of Repsol, has agreed with her, and has highlighted the role of investors: “they increasingly demand greater responsibility, something that is very welcome by companies”. In addition, he put on the table of debate the need to count on effective grievance mechanisms:  «listening and dialogue are fundamental». A point shared by Bernardo Cruza, director of RSE of El Corte Inglés, who has insisted that «effective compensation is the fundamental missing piece to be effectively developed by companies».

Finally, Tatiana Espinosa de los Monteros, Global Director of Labor Relations at Telefónica, has indicated how the technology, although it is a lever for the consolidation of human rights, it has risks too: «the opportunities it offers grow in parallel with the concern about the use of data,» she said. Security policies therefore need to be restrictive:»users must have he control and have benefit from its management», she concluded.