SHRI (Sustainability and Human Rights Initiative)

The Sustainability and Human Rights Initiative (SHRI) is an interdisciplinary initiative at the University of Notre Dame Keough School of Global Affairs that seeks to leverage university expertise to produce research that creatively confronts environmental challenges globally using a human rights and ethics lens. 

SHRI emerged from the Realizing Rights for Water project, a multidisciplinary team of Notre Dame professors who worked collaboratively with a mining company to develop a comprehensive strategy for proactively implementing the human right to water in water-intensive industrial contexts. The resulting framework was the first to combine hydrological, governance, legal, and ethical elements of the right to water into a set of contextualized questions that allow water operators to anticipate challenges to the human right to water across its multi-dimensional components.

The framework received validation across government, NGO, and private sectors and was lauded at World Water Week and at the United Nations for its actionable and research-informed strategy.

The attention indicates the high interest within natural resource management spaces for robust, applied research that can help address both social and environmental challenges associated with resource management, especially ones inclusive of a human-rights perspective. Climate change, increased reliance on water-intensive raw materials, increased conflict over resources, consumer pressure on businesses to pursue ethical and sustainable practices, and evolving jurisprudence that places more significant business enterprises to promote human rights all speak to the urgency of generating solutions located at environmental, social, and legal intersections.

Current Project:

The SHRI team is currently focused on three separate, complementary initiatives. First, they are generating a series of case studies that use the Realizing Rights for Water Framework to illustrate threats to the human right to water across contemporary industry scenarios. SHRI plans to synthesize learnings from these case studies and produce research products documenting patterns and divergences across contexts, industries, actors, power gradients, and other key factors.

Second, SHRI is gathering faculty experts at the University of Notre Dame to work together to consider how linkages between the Framework and broader approaches to the food-water-energy nexus can be drawn. SHRI is also pursuing opportunities to pilot the Realizing Rights for Water framework to demonstrate its viability at the pre-implementation stage of an industry project.

Relevant News and Research