In September was held in Madrid a workshop on business and human rights in collaboration with local networks of France, United Kingdom, Italy and Germany with the title «Responsible sourcing through a human rights lens. Going beyond tier 1”.

The need for this type of meeting is evident, as long as currently more than 450 million people work in supply chains around the world and more than 80% of world trade is related to the supply chains of multinational companies.

The conference was opened by Alberto Cerdán, Director General of ICEX, a partner of the Spanish Global Compact Network; Xiana Méndez, Secretary of State for Commerce of the Spanish Government, and Cristina Sánchez, Deputy Director at the Spanish Network.

In her speech, Méndez highlighted «the positive impact sustainability has on competitiveness and the evidence that companies that innovate in this area develop important competitive advantages as well as better brand recognition«.

Sánchez, pointed «the importance of helping companies in our respective countries to share best cases that help us improve human rights, which will enhance the positive role private sector has the world”. That is the aim of this European Business and Human Rights Peer Learning Group.

One of the keynote addresses was given by Shivani Kannabhiran, Policy Advisor Responsible Supply Chains, OECD, who focused on the benefits of implementing due diligence in business management, regardless of the size and activity of companies. These benefits include: reducing risks, managing reputation, obtaining licence to operate, facilitating participation in global value chains, attracting and retaining talent, and access to new markets.

Key international meeting

This international meeting, hosted by the Spanish Network, takes place in the year in which the 70th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights is celebrated. This is the fourth meeting of the European Business and Human Rights Peer Learning Group, after having been held in 2015 in Milan, in 2016 in Geneva and in 2017 in London.

On this occasion it has been thematically oriented towards the supply chain, with the following key points: Reducing complexity: prioritizing product groups and sourcing categories; Identifying the appropriate approach: defining ambition levels and choosing appropriate tools and embedding: integrating expectations and ambitions internally and engaging the supplier base across various tiers. All this with the presentation of external speakers and business cases, through which the practical cases of Iberdrola, Ikea, Shop Direct and Deutsche Telekom.

The meeting was attended by around fifty attendees, people responsible for the local networks, representatives of the OECD National Contact Point in Spain, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and international companies such as: Merck, Deutsche Telekom, Siemens, Puma, Evonik Industries, Total, Pernod Ricard, Ikea… and the Spanish companies BBVA, Endesa, Iberdrola, Repsol and Telefonica.