Upcoming Event: Improved business Purchasing Practices as a way to address Human Rights – What role for EU policies?
Unfair purchasing practices, such as short lead times and inadequate pricing, lead to human rights violations and environmental harm, as they burden and disable suppliers, factories, and small farmers, meaning they cannot pay their workers and employees a living wage, ensure worker safety and environmental protection nor allow small producers to earn a living income. The current environment incentivizes companies to look for the cheapest supply chain possible to remain competitive. Some businesses and voluntary initiatives show that a different way is possible, however, it remains small scale and for transformative change to take place, legislation is needed.
The EU already has legislated on this issue with for example the Unfair Trading Practices Directive banning most harmful trading practices in the agri-food sector. However, unfair trading practices are also endemic throughout EU and global value chains and further regulation is needed.
The initiative on Sustainable Corporate Governance is an opportunity to regulate companies’ practices. It aims at ensuring better integration of sustainability dimensions, including human rights, into companies’ corporate strategies and practices, including their trading practices. It can also serve to get companies to improve their purchasing practices as part of their due diligence process, as these can lead to human rights violations and environmental degradation. The approach to the Sustainable Corporate Governance proposal can already seek inspiration in, for example, the own-initiative report by the European Parliament on Corporate due diligence and corporate accountability, which refers to purchasing practices in Article 4.9. The stronger intervention logic of the Directive (EU) 2019/633 on unfair trading practices also provides some insights.
Objectives of the event
# Identify how purchasing practices are linked to human rights violations and environmental degradation.
# Assess how policies can help address bad purchasing practices, with a focus on the Sustainable Corporate Governance initiative.
# Exchange with the EC on their plans to tackle bad purchasing practices in the Sustainable Corporate Governance legislation.
15.00 Welcome and introduction by Host MEP
15.05 Presentation of the impact of purchasing practices on Human Rights
Presentation of the impact: Purchasing Practices and working conditions in global supply chains: Global Survey results (Luis Pinedo Caro, Labour Economist at the International Labour Organization)
Brands’ practices during the Covid-19 Pandemic and Impacts on Factories and Workers in the Garment, Footwear and Electronics Supply Chains in Vietnam (Do Quynh Chi, Director of the Research Centre for Employment Relations)
15.20 Producer & supplier Testimonies
A producer from the Global South (Marike de Peña, Director and co-founder of Banelino banana cooperative in the Dominican Republic and the Chair of the Latin American and Caribbean Banana Network of CLAC)
A textile manufacturer from Bangladesh (Mostafiz Uddin, Managing Director, Denim Expert Ltd. and Founder & CEO, Bangladesh Apparel Exchange (BAE))
15.40 A discussion with Lucrezia Busa (Member of the Cabinet of European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders, European Commission) moderated by the Fair Trade Advocacy Office
How can the upcoming Sustainable Corporate Governance instrument lead to better purchasing practices?
16.25 Wrap up and conclusions