The Netherlands and Germany are leading the way with multi-stakeholder covenants to tackle human rights in the garment and finance industries
The international attention paid to the Netherlands has not been too flattering of late. A referendum initiated by the populist far-right last year threw a spanner in the works of the EU-Ukraine association agreement, while the "Dutch sandwich" corporate tax avoidance scheme, partner in crime to the Double Irish, has attracted negative headlines.
But when it comes to sustainability, the Dutch have shown real leadership, according to John Morrison, head of the Institute for Human Rights and Business. In 2014 the Dutch government's main advisory body on social and economic affairs, the Sociaal-Economische Raad (SER) brokered a multi-stakeholder Energy Agreement for Sustainable Growth, which was signed by over 40 Dutch organisations, pledging savings in energy consumption, an increase in renewables, and job creation.
This was followed by a pair of sectorial covenants with government, business, trade unions and NGOs on human rights issues in the garment and textiles industries and banking sectors – an idea that has been replicated in Germany for the textiles industry.
Morrison says such multi-stakeholder partnerships are a model other countries should consider for progressing business and human rights. “It’s not just business itself deciding what the due diligence threshold should be,...