The Netherlands accepts corporate social responsibility recommendations requested by IUCN NL

During the sessions of the UN Human Rights Council, which took place in Geneva over the past few days, the results of the Universal Periodic Review relating to the Netherlands were determined. The results show that the Netherlands accepts almost all the recommendations requested by IUCN NL, Milieudefensie and Stand Up for Your Rights.

Header photo: Stilt houses are seen beside mangroves along a river in Paombong town in Bulacan province, north of Manila, Philippines. (c) Basilio Sepe

The accepted recommendations are aimed at introducing legislation requiring Dutch businesses to conduct due diligence in their (international) value chain on (potential) human rights violations, the infliction of (potential) damage to nature and the impact of their activities on the climate.

‘ The Netherlands has shown that it takes this issue seriously and wishes to introduce national legislation.’

Antoinette Sprenger – IUCN NL

National CSR legislation

This year, the Netherlands is part of the so-called Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by the UN Human Rights Council, during which the Dutch government and stakeholders have the opportunity to report on the state of human rights in the Netherlands.

Several countries (Bhutan, Cape Verde, Chile, Costa Rica, Germany, Ecuador, Philippines, Panama and Vanuatu) gave recommendations that were in line with what IUCN NL, Milieudefensie and Stand Up for Your Rights had requested; namely, the introduction of legislation requiring Dutch companies to perform due diligence into potential human rights violations and the (potential) infliction of harm to nature in their (international) value chain. The Netherlands has accepted the recommendations given by these countries and must now start implementing them.

‘The acceptance of these recommendations is great news,’ says Antoinette Sprenger, senior expert environmental justice at IUCN NL. ‘By accepting these recommendations, the Netherlands has shown that it takes this issue seriously and wishes to introduce national legislation.’

OECD guidelines

Among other things, the Netherlands has accepted the recommendation that national legislation for companies should at least be in line with the UN Guiding Principles and the OECD guidelines. ‘This is very relevant in the context of the discussion surrounding the proposed law on responsible and sustainable international business (initiatiefwet verantwoord en duurzaam internationaal ondernemen) by the ChristenUnie, ‘ says Sprenger. ‘After all, the proposed law is founded on the OECD guidelines, so acceptance of this recommendation indicates that the Netherlands also believes that the UN Guiding Principles and the OECD guidelines are leading international standards that should be followed.’

Climate change

The Netherlands has also accepted several recommendations related to taking measures to mitigate further climate change. Given the IPCC synthesis report published last week, action on this issue is extremely urgent.

According to this report, in almost all scenarios we will exceed 1.5 degrees of warming between 2030 and 2035: ten years earlier than expected in the IPCC’s fifth synthesis report (AR5) from 2014. According to the report, it is nevertheless still possible to limit warming to 1.5 degrees by the end of the century with at most a limited overshoot, but urgent action must be taken.

Improved legislation

IUCN NL advocates at national and international level for improved legislation that prevents companies from violating human rights and damaging nature and the climate.

We do this, for example, as part of our Forests for a Just Future programme, one of the aims of which is to ensure the freedom of movement and safety of environmental defenders, so that they in turn can protect nature and combat climate change.

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Antoinette Sprenger
Senior Expert Environmental Justice