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Business Advocacy on Human Rights and the SDGs
A joint statement issued this week by the world’s major business organizations and networks underscores the importance of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) as a “powerful and critical companion to the Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs).
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) endorses the statement, thereby reaffirming its commitment to the Guiding Principles and to promote their implementation among its network of member companies and partner organizations across the world.
The statement urges “companies everywhere to scale up their efforts to respect universally accepted human rights throughout their operations, value chains and business relationships. Meeting the corporate responsibility to respect human rights is a key contribution and vehicle through which business can help achieve the broader vision of peaceful and inclusive societies embraced by the SDGs.”
Ever since their adoption in 2011, the UNGPs establish an authoritative global standard on the respective roles of businesses and governments in helping ensure that companies respect human rights in their own operations and through their business relationships. For their part, the SDGs, which will shape the global development agenda from now until 2030, explicitly call on business to use creativity and innovation to address sustainable development challenges, such as poverty, gender equality, clean water, access to energy, and climate change.
The joint statement is being launched ahead of the 2015 United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva (November 16 to 18), where the WBCSD and its members will participate in a series of cross-sectoral discussions and debates to raise awareness, build understanding, and tackle challenges in the field of business and human rights.
Human rights: An essential pillar of the WBCSD’s Action2020 platform
”Meeting basic needs and respecting human rights” has been identified as one of nine key priority areas within the WBCSD’s Action2020 platform, a science-based action plan engaging companies to implement innovative and scalable business solutions and improve the business case for sustainability.
The focus of the Council’s work lies on identifying solutions to operationalizing the UN Guiding Principles, with the aim of considerably increasing the number of companies knowing and showing that they respect human rights.
Our ambition as a CEO-led organization of forward-thinking companies is to ever more strongly link human rights to the wider sustainability agenda. This in turn will enable us to lay the groundwork for moving beyond compliance and audit-based thinking.
We will continue to enable “learning by sharing” by featuring both good practices and difficulties faced by companies, articulating how they can put the Guiding Principles into practice, and outlining the most effective actions they can take to prevent, mitigate and address human rights impacts. We will also work with partners to advocate a progressive business perspective in view of creating the conditions where more sustainable companies will succeed and be recognized, including in terms of how they embed respect for human rights across their operations.
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