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Solutions to Scale Up Business Action on Human Rights
“Meeting basic needs and respecting human rights” has been identified as one of nine key priority areas within the Action2020 platform of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).
Action2020 is a science-based action plan that seeks to engage companies to implement innovative and scalable business solutions and improve the business case for sustainability. WBCSD members have highlighted the operationalization of the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) as an essential business solution to contribute to achieving this priority. 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.
However, global experience has demonstrated that this can be a lot more challenging in practice than it sounds. Despite extensive guidance material, companies, and those responsible for human rights issues within those companies, face a number of barriers to operationalizing respect for human rights across their businesses. In this context, companies have been cautious entering this space, and the voice of business has been relatively quiet when it comes to sharing corporate efforts.
Over the course of 2014, here at the WBCSD we focused on identifying a series of barriers and solutions to operationalizing the UNGPs, with the aim of encouraging more companies to take action in this domain.
The result of our work is an issue brief titled Scaling up Action on Human Rights: Operationalizing the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights.
It builds on the hands-on experiences of several WBCSD member companies in their efforts to implement the UNGPs, including: ABB, Anglo American, ArcelorMittal, Coca-Cola, DSM, Eni, HEINEKEN, Hitachi, Holcim, JPMorgan Chase, Michelin, Nestlé, Novartis, RWE, Total, Unilever, and Vale. It also draws from the results of the survey of WBCSD members on the implementation of the UNGPs as well as the broader experience of experts that have worked with companies on these issues across the globe.
Specifically, the brief intends to:
• Create a better understanding of the current state of play amongst corporations
• Highlight some of the most common barriers faced by companies in their efforts to implement the UNGPs
• Share solutions tried and tested by WBCSD members to overcome these barriers.
These insights are useful for companies at all stages of their human rights journey. For companies that are kick-starting their human rights activities – and trying to determine how best to ‘dive in’ – the brief provides a menu of practical steps that might help them get started, which their peers have found to be most important and effective. For companies with more experience, the brief identifies additional strategies that may help them to overcome persistent challenges.
Check out the slide show below for highlights of the issue brief.
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