Posted in: news

18th February 2022

How mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence can create a sustainable future

By André Hoffmann

As we enter year three of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the threat of war looming over Europe, protecting people and the planet is not a nice-to-have, it is a must. A consensus is growing: business has a duty to respect human rights, even when and where states waver in their responsibilities to safeguard workers, communities and our natural environment.

Next week the European Commission is expected to release a draft of standard-setting legislation on sustainable corporate governance, designed to ensure that human rights and the environment are respected throughout EU-based companies’ value chains. In spite of multiple delays, this could be a game-changing moment for corporate accountability – provided the EU meets the high ambitions it set for itself two years ago. As EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said in April 2020, it’s time “to make sure that responsible business conduct and sustainable supply chains become the norm.”

Putting inclusion into practice

Pressure on companies and their boards to identify and address challenges in their value chains has grown, including from investors, and extends to the need to engage more directly with communities impacted by business activities. Business has a key opportunity here to put inclusion into practice. Championing proactive behaviors must come from the top level of a company. My company, Roche, has recognized the benefits of creating an environment in which all people are actively included, treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can be themselves while contributing fully to the organization's success. This is only possible through the participation of the company and business partners, and the same approach can extend to respecting communities along the value chain.

A wide range of companies, investors and business initiatives have already recognized that effective mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence is a means for companies to raise the bar and ensure long-term stability and a sustainable business performance.

Read the full piece on the World Economic Forum's website.