NIR Programme

Joint Sustainability Leverage

Addressing human rights and social sustainability risks in complex markets by increasing the leverage for positive impact through joint solutions.

Addressing sustainability risks in complex environments

Regardless of size, industry or geography, individual companies often lack sufficient leverage with business partners to positively influence local sustainability. This initiative brings NIR members together to advocate for improved business conditions in complex markets, in line with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).

This framework, along with other applicable guidelines are the foundation for the Joint Sustainability Leverage initiative. The ambition is to address risks for local rights holders, thereby improving the conditions for conducting sustainable business.


The root causes of human rights and sustainability risks can be complex to identify. For an individual company, the possibility to mitigate an indirect adverse impact through its business relationships is often limited. In such situations, this initiative works to achieve leverage through multi-stakeholder collaborative action by engaging peer companies, customers, civil society or government actors.

A key objective is to work with companies, Swedish embassies and partners, such as the Swedish Export Credit Agency (EKN), Swedish Export Credit Corporation (SEK), Business Sweden and Swedfund to establish a toolbox and methods to strengthen the Swedish preparedness for handling human rights and sustainability-related risk in complex markets. By doing so, the initiative contributes to the Trade and Investment Strategy and the Platform for International Sustainable Business.

Pilot for the mining sector

The programme has been conducted as a pilot for the mining sector since 2018 with support from the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA).

Mining is recognised as a sector with a high number of human rights-related risks. Swedish companies also have a large global presence in this industry as solution providers. One part of the pilot involves identifying issues and solutions to sustainability challenges in Latin America, Peru in particular, working closely with local Swedish representatives and leveraging the Swedish resource base. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, efforts have included focus on a systematic exchange between key private and public sector stakeholders in Peru and the Swedish mining cluster.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, mineral supply chains are connected to a complex set of human rights, environmental, conflict and development issues. In 2021, the initiative will seek to team up with Swedish and local partners in a long-term engagement to contribute to a positive development in targeted areas broadly related to mineral extraction.

The underlying causes of many of the problems identified in the pilot so far are connected to local development challenges. Achieving long-term positive impact will require alignment with the Swedish Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). Such opportunities are actively explored as part of the pilot.

Supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals


Additional information

For more information, please contact Programme Director Henrik Hallgren, telephone number + 46 8 783 82 65.



lack of enabling environment for social dialogue at the workplace level, despite the provision of legislative acts that protect and promote workplace cooperation is a reoccuring issue  in Kenya. To implement good policy there must be a fertil ground.

Therefore SWP developed the UP!  project. Together with Swedish companies as an entry point, and with unions i South africa and Kenya. 

In Kenya SWP created the SWP UP! Programme targeting skills development of the union Shop Stewards from 18 companies in the Automotive sector in Kenya during 2021. As a result, the Stewards were able to use their skills to build trust and cooperation with management in new ways to avoid conflicts. 

A second cohort of training, in close cooperation with union AUKMW, takes place in 2022.

The training allows shop stewards to step out of their daily routines and understand their role and the purpose of their union, understand the labour market context, the laws that regulate relationships and the business itself. But on a human level, many shop stewards also highlighted that they feel respected as human beings, and that they have developed the skills to engage with supervisors and management and experience respect in professional relations. The experiences had deeply impressed them and helped to project the vision of dialogue and mutual respect and their own potential as a means to change workplaces.

The intervention of the SWP programme had a direct effect at the workplaces, where shop stewards listed several cases where they had managed to intervene and secure results in dialogue with management, avert crises or find solutions based on opportunities and the communication skills obtained during the SWP training. For the Amalgamated Metal Workers Unions in Kenya, the shop stewards pointed to how the training had enabled them to design their own strategies at the workplace in relation to supervisors and staff, and to achieve many concrete results.

Based on this shop steward upskilling, I feel confident that as a union we now have change ambassadors that will grow the industry, protect, and promote decent work principles for both the employer and the employees represented. And that disputes will be dealt with at the workplace level by though consultative dialogue.

Rose Omamo

General Secretary
Amalgamated Union of Kenya Metal Workers