In a September 2019 statement, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, affirmed that climate change is, “The greatest ever threat to human rights.”
Environmental protection and human rights are deeply intertwined. Robust environmental protections are key to achieving comprehensive human rights. As such, recent guidelines and directives including the Non-Financial Reporting Directive, the OECD Guidelines and France’s Duty of Vigilance Law confirm the global legislative trend towards framing the environment and human rights issues as complementary, encouraging businesses to address them holistically through due diligence processes.
The EU is moving in this direction as well. A recent study published by the European Commission shows broad support for EU-level legislation on due diligence that encompasses both environmental and human rights aspects. The majority of the respondents to the study affirmed that reporting requirements are not sufficient because they do not require companies to actually conduct due diligence.
The Alliance for Corporate Transparency backed this statement through an analysis of 1,000 companies’ reports, which proved the existence of a significant gap between the intentions of companies to combat climate change and their reporting practice: whilst 82% of businesses have relevant policies in place, only 35% have targets and 28% report on their outcome.
The study shows that environmental due diligence is expected to lead to several types of benefits for businesses, which include:
- Decreasing the risk associated with lack of compliance
- Reducing existing reputational risks, and
- Improving the company’s performance in terms of risk management, efficient use of natural resources and even human capital, as most consumers (67%) said they prefer to work for socially responsible companies
The EU has already partially regulated the topic through the so-called Timber Regulation, which lays down the obligation of operators who place timber and timber products on the market to conduct due diligence.
amfori offers services for members to start getting prepared for environmental due diligence through amfori BEPI, which includes the Country Due Diligence tool and the recently launched Timber Due Diligence Programme. This programme helps members comply with the European Union Timber Regulation, assess risks and access specialised seminars, webinars and workshops.
Our experts from the Advocacy team are monitoring legislative developments to help our members stay informed. Keep an eye on our website for further updates.
If you want to know more about amfori’s due diligence advocacy roadmap, please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org, Social & Environmental Policy Advisor.