Some corporations have incomes higher than the gross domestic product (GDP) of poor countries. Their wealth has allowed them to shape and sway many policies to their advantage. Neoliberal fundamentalism spurs private companies to pursue limitless growth — at the expense of the environment and human rights. Transnational corporations are particularly powerful, operating across borders virtually without regulation.
LRC works to make companies more accountable through its engagement with the drafting of the United Nations (UN) Legally Binding Instrument (LBI) on Transnational Corporations as well as with the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles (UNGPs) on Business and Human Rights (BHR).
LRC’s work on economic justice intersects with its focus on environmental justice.
Neoliberal fundamentalism considers natural resources as economic inputs, without due regard to negative externalities. And it is people and nature who bear the brunt of these impacts.
Mining and Plantations
Large-scale metallic mining and agribusiness ventures are two of the most pernicious examples of a productivist and developmentalist regime.
LRC works with Indigenous peoples who reject mining projects and agricultural plantations, which are foundationally inimical to their Indigenous philosophy and worldview. LRC is the convener of the SOS Yamang Bayan Network, which is pushing for an alternative minerals management legislation that will introduce stronger environmental and social safeguards against metallic mining.
LRC believes in transforming the present energy system: A decentralized and decarbonized energy system offers a promising energy blueprint that will solve energy poverty as well as prevent environmental collapse.
Public energy policies and projects must take pains to ensure that Indigenous peoples’ rights are upheld. Vast swathes of ancestral land will likely become the sites for renewable energy projects, which may unwittingly threaten Indigenous peoples’ way of life. Such a threat extends to the environment itself, since ancestral lands serve as the country’s last ecological frontiers.
LRC is piloting a solar-powered micro-grid project with the T’boli-Manobo Indigenous community in South Cotabato. The micro-grid project aims to provide at least fifty households through a distributed renewable energy (DRE) system, or what is known as missionary electrification. LRC believes that many rural and Indigenous communities are better served by DRE than by being connected to the national grid. The government must invest in both financial and policy solutions to remove the barriers to energy sufficiency and sovereignty powered by renewable energy.
Climate Legislation and Litigation
In partnerships with other civil society organizations, LRC is working on legal projects designed to exact accountability from corporations which contribute to climate change. These are envisioned to be precedent-setting actions that will transform the legal environmental landscape.
Large-scale agriculture is responsible for leveling many of the country’s forests. LRC believes that a food sovereignty framework should inform public policies around food and agriculture.
Food sovereignty is in keeping with Indigenous knowledge systems and practices in feeding and nourishing communities — those which are not parasitic but harmonious with nature. Indigenous people’s practice of food sovereignty and agroecology is an important expression of their self-determination. People’s control over food systems is important in building a just world.
LRC’s food sovereignty program includes the Teduray and Lambangian Indigenous people’s practice of sulagad, their articulation of agroecology. LRC has been supporting them through piloting of demonstration farms, seeds exchange, and a Women’s Sulagad Center. LRC has also started to work with a T’boli-Manobo Indigenous community in protecting their heirloom seeds.
INDIGENOUS WOMEN’S RIGHTS
LRC is working to support Indigenous partner communities which have begun to transform traditionally exclusively male Indigenous political structures (IPS) to include women.
In Maguindanao, LRC facilitates dialogues and holds capacity-building initiatives to contribute to the institutional strengthening of the fintalian, a women-led assembly which aims to remove barriers to women’s decision-making in Indigenous political structures (IPS). LRC hopes to replicate the gains made by fintailan across its partner communities that have started to welcome transformational leadership.
LRC applies a gender analysis across its programs and policies, cognizant of the gender-differentiated impacts of environmental policies and practices.