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Netherlands

3.1 An active role for the government [page 14]

“As the government pointed out in its policy letter ‘CSR Pays Off’ and as is discussed under point 3 below on due diligence, the challenge in the next few years will be timely identification of risks in Dutch companies’ supply chains. The government wants to work on structural solutions within international chains, not incident management.”

3.2 Policy coherence

Sustainable procurement policy [page 17-18]

“Under the social conditions of national sustainable procurement policy, companies supplying the government with goods and services are required to respect human rights. These social conditions have been included in all central government EU contract award procedures since 1 January 2013, and the municipal, provincial and water authorities are being encouraged to apply them, too. Suppliers can fulfil these conditions in various ways – by joining a reliable multi-stakeholder supply chain initiative (quality mark or certification institute) or, if they have any doubts, carrying out a risk analysis. …

Government suppliers should perform a risk analysis to show that they respect human rights in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles.”

3.3 Clarifying due diligence [page 21-28]

“Due diligence is a core concept of the UN Guiding Principles, as set out by Professor Ruggie. It may be defined as follows:

  • Identifying and assessing human rights impacts: taking proactive, ongoing steps to understand how existing and proposed activities may cause or contribute to human rights impacts.
  • Taking action and tracking effectiveness of response.
  • Externally communicating how the business has addressed adverse impacts: it is possible that these impacts are not the direct result of a business’s own operations, but are caused elsewhere within the supply chain.
  • Due diligence is not a one-off activity but an ongoing process.”

Raising companies’ awareness

“The government supports the SER [Social and Economic Council] with a grant for workshops to help companies shape the human rights component of their CSR policies, and to assist them in charting and prioritising the risks they face. … The SER has also been given a grant to investigate whether the ISO 31000 risk management standard is applicable to CSR due diligence.”

CSR Risk Check

“Using a grant from the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, CSR Netherlands has developed the CSR Risk Check for companies wishing to apply due diligence. Based on the sector and country in which a company is operating, this internet tool provides an indication of possible social impacts. CSR Netherlands works with the agency responsible for carrying out Sector Risk Analyses to harmonise the information on which the two instruments are based. This information will be used in the course of 2014 to compile sectoral world maps on which colour coding will be used to indicate whether a certain theme (e.g. child labour, discrimination of women) plays a role in a given country or region.”

Sector Risk Analysis

“An issue raised during the consultations was that the government should help companies to take a proactive approach in identifying risks to human rights.

As announced in the CSR policy letter, Sector Risk Analysis has been introduced to identify the sectors that present the greatest risk of adverse social impacts and where priority should be given to strengthening company policy in relation to them. This forms part of the Dutch government’s due diligence towards the business community. In this way, it is helping the business community to fulfil its responsibility to apply due diligence on CSR. Both the business community and civil society organisations will be closely involved in the analysis. The government will enter into dialogue with the sectors identified in the analysis to explore how the situation can be improved. Human rights issues may also be raised. The government will report to the House of Representatives on progress with the project in early 2014.

Where specific issues relating to human rights and the Dutch business community play a role, the government will enter into dialogue with the companies concerned.”

Due diligence by government

“For some time now the government has applied ICSR [International Corporate Social Responsibility] frameworks for risk assessment (due diligence) to all applications for support. These frameworks differ, depending on the goals and the nature of the instrument in question. For example, the ICSR framework for trade missions differs from the frameworks for project grants or export credit insurance. Assessment is based on the risk profile of the project or instrument, so that high-risk projects are subject to more thorough assessment than projects with fewer risks.

Companies should always take responsibility for their activities and the ICSR assessment frameworks provide guidance in this respect.”

ICSR in relation to export credit insurance

“The OECD Export Credit Group, in which all member states with export credit facilities are represented, is working on a strategy for assessing project-related human rights. The Netherlands plays an active part in this group, which is responsible for improving risk assessment.”

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