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.