The past two weeks have been marked by votes on the update of the OECD Guidelines and the European Parliament’s proposed amendments to the European Commission’s proposed Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD). Both votes went favourably, which is good news for Indigenous Peoples and nature.

Header photo: On the island of Sulawesi, forest is being cleared for nickel mining. Nickel is an important resource for the energy transition. Photo by Galen Priest/Alto

At the end of last May, the European Parliament voted in favour of amendments to the CSDDD that was proposed by the European Commission. Different parties within the European Parliament proposed significant changes to the initial proposal of the CSDDD.  

Protection for Indigenous Peoples and nature

Whereas the European Commission and the European Council had failed to refer to relevant conventions that provide protection for Indigenous Peoples, local communities and nature, the European Parliament fortunately corrected this omission. Explicit references now include the right to ‘Free, Prior and Informed Consent’ (FPIC), the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP) and the UN resolution on Indigenous Peoples.

Better protection for nature and climate

The CSDDD also explicitly articulates the need to prevent air, water and soil pollution, also referring to biodiversity loss and deforestation. Companies are also required to address climate change in their operations.

The European Parliament also prominently features the OECD Guidelines in the Directive and has included additional definitions and provisions around stakeholder consultation, thus ensuring that all parties involved are timely and properly consulted, while respecting the right to FPIC.

Dutch government should support proposal

In the coming period, the European Commission, the European Council and the European Parliament will start negotiating the text of the CSDDD. This will be the so-called ‘trilogue’. These negotiations will take place in the coming months, after which the agreed text will be submitted back to the European Council and the European Parliament for a vote. We call on the Dutch government to protect the position of Indigenous Peoples and nature in these negotiations and to support the European Parliament’s proposals.

The text of the CSDDD that was adopted by the European Parliament can be found here.

OECD Guidelines 2023

The OECD members have agreed to amend the OECD Guidelines. The adaptation of the OECD Guidelines has been a long process with various parties providing input to bring the texts more in line with the current times. Again, the texts offer more protection to Indigenous Peoples and local communities by including references to key principles (such as FPIC) and conventions (such as the UNDRIP).  Risks of damage to biodiversity, deforestation and pollution have been added and the importance of a just energy transition is mentioned. From now on, animal welfare standards are also referred to and the texts contain a clear description of climate change. In addition, the principle of due diligence has been reaffirmed.

These Guidelines have now been adopted and companies should take their contents into account in their operations. The OECD Guidelines are voluntary in nature, but are considered among the international standards of corporate responsibility. Any self-respecting company that wants to conduct corporate social responsibility (CSR) will want to take the new texts into account in its operations and incorporate them into its business processes.

For more information, read the response from OECD Watch, the global network of civil society organisations that shares knowledge about the OECD guidelines and is a discussion partner of the OECD’s CSR working group of which IUCN NL is a member. The 2023 version of the OECD guidelines can be downloaded in English from the OECD website.

Improved laws and regulations

IUCN NL advocates at national and international level for better laws and regulations that prevent companies from damaging human rights, the environment and the climate. We do this as part of our Forests for a Just Future and Bottom Line programmes, whose objectives include ensuring the freedom of movement and safety of environmental defenders and protecting nature.

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Antoinette Sprenger
Senior Expert Environmental Justice