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Exploring Respect for Human Rights as a Driver for Business Action on Sustainable Development

This collaborative project will equip and inspire companies to adopt coherent sustainable development strategies by embracing the power of initiatives that drive respect for human rights across operations and value chains.

December 2017

PARTNERS: Danish Institute for Human Rights

While there is no doubt that the private sector has an important role to play in achieving sustainable development, business action on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) often remains ad-hoc and disconnected from systematic efforts to increase corporate respect for human rights. By exploring the ways in which company initiatives to drive respect for human rights across their operations and value chains can contribute to sustainable development, the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) and Shift will build a bridge between these two related areas of responsible business conduct.

Also see: our holistic framework for action that any company can use to contribute to the Sustainable Development goals

Looking back – why this project

When the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted in 2015, it called on businesses to “apply their creativity and innovation to solving sustainable development challenges” while at the same time doubling down on their efforts to implement established standards such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

While it is clear that the private sector can unlock business opportunities through innovative products and new partnerships that aim to drive sustainable development, there is a need to further highlight the transformative potential of corporate respect for human rights as a positive driver of change for millions of workers, families, and communities affected by the operations and value chains of businesses.

Looking ahead – about the project

With this project, Shift and DIHR will help equip and inspire companies to adopt coherent sustainable development strategies by embracing the power of initiatives that drive respect for human rights across operations and value chains. The project will consist of three main elements:

  1. DIHR-led initiative: Business-friendly guidance on the relationship between business and human rights and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including an overall narrative, Q&A section, video, and more. 
  1. Collaborative initiative: An online platform that lets users explore the links between the SDGs and more than 15 common human rights risks in company operations and value chains. The platform will include real examples of how companies can advance responsible business conduct in an integrated way through actions that mitigate these human rights risks.
  1. Shift-led initiative: In-depth case studies of corporate, industry, and multi-stakeholder initiatives that pursue an integrated approach to business and human rights and the SDGs. A total of five to six “clusters” will each deal with a specific human rights challenge. Each cluster will contain a primary case study, supported by one or more shorter case studies that illustrate diversity of approaches across various sectors, business relationships, and geographic locations.

All materials will be accessible (free of charge) through the online platform.

Timeline

After an initial development period, DIHR and Shift will consult with expert organizations starting in March 2018 on the substantive content of the online platform.

The beta launch of the site is envisioned to take place in June 2018. DIHR and Shift will then incorporate changes based on feedback from companies and other users in subsequent months. We welcome expressions of interest from any party interested in participating in this phase of the project.

For further information, please contact:

Cathrine Bloch Veiberg, Danish Institute for Human Rights: cph[at]humanrights.dk

Sara Blackwell, Shift: sara.blackwell[at]shiftproject.org

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