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HUMAN round table participants ask for practical guidance for implementing the SDGs

Which Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) show biggest overlap with your company’s efforts on human rights? Which obstacles do you face and what are your next steps achieving the SDGs related to human rights? These questions were addressed during the second HUMAN Round Table of 29th of June 2016.

 

More than 25 stakeholders participated in the dialogue, representing Dutch (multinational) companies, investors, civil society organizations, government and research institutions.

 

SDGs should be translated into practical actions

Participants agreed that all seventeen sustainable development goals show overlap with human rights, and can be connected to business activities of companies or organizations.  Companies could focus on the most important goals related to their business. Nevertheless, contributing to each one of the goals should positively impact another.

 

The participating companies indicate that the main obstacle they face is the lack of in-depth understanding of what each SDG means and how the SDGs should be translated into practical actions and KPIs related to their business activities. Also political and economic instability will have its impact on reaching goals like job creation and inclusive economic growth.

 

The first step is to enhance understanding of the SDGs

Next steps therefore should be as practical as possible and therefore practical implementation guidance is needed, the participants concluded. A first step should be to enhance understanding and raising awareness amongst managers, employees and suppliers on human rights and SDGs. Next to that, the involvement of stakeholders is crucial in determining the right long-term focus and implementation approach. Investors ask for more mandatory disclosure of data on human rights and the SDGs. The tension between expectations of NGOs (action on all SDGs), business (specific focus), government and investors points to the importance of goal 17: forming partnerships.

 

The enthusiastic participation and focus on collaboration reflects the purpose of the HUMAN round tables; to stimulate the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights by sharing best practices, creating awareness, and facilitating cooperation between companies, investors, NGOs and government.

 

HUMAN partnership

HUMAN is a partnership between VBDO, PwC, CNV International and ICCO Cooperation to advance the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights (UNGPs) in the Netherlands. In the past four years, the HUMAN conferences successfully facilitated a dialogue between companies, investors, civil society organizations, research institutions and governments on human rights and business. In 2016, we continue this dialogue in the form of three round-tables. The next round-table will take place at the end of October on operational-grievance mechanisms in practice.

Successful round table about the role of government on HR and business

What role can the EU governments play to support companies in their efforts to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights? This was the main question of the HUMAN 2016 Round-table of Thursday 21 April. The outcomes of this round-table will be included in a Pan-European conference at May 11. 

HUMAN 2016 is a multi-stakeholder round-table on expectations on the role of governments in the implementation of human rights in business. More than twenty stakeholders are invited on 21 April, among which Dutch multinational companies, investors, civil society organizations, government representatives and research institutions. VBDO is co-organizing this event.

Topics such as effectiveness of actions of policymakers and need for hard law were discussed. Common ground was found in the request for more policy coherence and sustainable public procurement (“governments should practice what they preach”). As part of the Dutch presidency of the European Union, European civil society organizations and the Dutch government are jointly organizing this event on May 11 to progress the implementation of the human rights and business agenda of the EU and its member states. The anonymised outcomes of the HUMAN round-table will be discussed at this Pan-European conference.

The VBDO emphasizes the importance of these events. “Businesses still struggle with many aspects of implementing the UNGPs. For many companies it is complicated to assess which violations of human rights occur within their value chain and/or own direct business operations. This is also how ‘human rights’ are framed. It’s therefore important to give insights on how regulations can be made more useful and known to get companies more engaged.”

HUMAN is a partnership between ICCO Cooperation, PwC, CNV Internationaal, and The Dutch Association of Investors for Sustainable Development (VBDO) to advance the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights (UNGPs) in the Netherlands. In the past four years, the HUMAN conferences successfully facilitated a dialogue between companies, investors, civil society organisations, research institutions, and governments on human rights and business. This year we will continue this dialogue in the form of three round-tables.