Online Event: Improved business Purchasing Practices as a way to address Human Rights – What role for EU policies?
If you have missed the Event or you wish to rewatch it, you can access the recording here.
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
Luis Pinedo Caro
Luis Pinedo Caro is a research officer at the International Labour Organization Office for Turkey. He holds a PhD from the University of Southampton, UK, and has several years of experience working on employment-related fields such as global supply chains, the gig economy and the role of internships in promoting young people’s employability. He has recently developed an observatory on Syrian refugees in Turkey and has written a report on this group’s living and working conditions.
Dr. Do Quynh Chi
Dr. Do Quynh Chi is the Co-founder and Director of the Research Center for Employment Relations (ERC), an independent research institute in Hanoi, Vietnam. She received her Ph.D. in Industrial relations from the University of Sydney and her MPhil in International Relations from the University of Cambridge. Dr. Do Quynh Chi has 20 years of experience doing labour research and training at national and international levels. She has published frequently in international journals. She is also the coordinator of the Vietnam Labour Research Network.
Marike Runneboom de Peña
Marike Runneboom de Peña is a Sociologist in Agricultural Development from the Landbouw Wageningen University in the Netherlands and has devoted most of her life to bring change in favor of producers and Fairtrade. Since 1986 she has been based in the Dominican Republic, where she worked at the Dominican Land Reform Institute (IAD) training government staff on issues related to agriculture, as well as coordinating projects on organizational strengthening of small farmers. Since 2000 she has been the Managing Director of Banelino Cooperative, a successful Fair Trade banana cooperative from the Dominican Republic. Furthermore, Marike has been an active member of the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Fair Trade Small Producers and Workers (CLAC) for over 12 years, with an outstanding work around the region. Marike has played a key role in the governance of both CLAC and the Fairtrade System, as vice-president and president of their boards in the last decade.
Mr. Mostafiz Uddin is the Managing Director of Denim Expert Ltd – an internationally renowned, cutting edge, fully integrated, environmentally sustainable and social responsible compliant garment manufacturing plant based in Chittagong, Bangladesh.
He is a visionary entrepreneur in the development of sustainable apparel systems. He is personally driven by social and environmental ethics and is recognized to be a game changer through the introduction of sustainable practices, innovation and fashion disruption, which he sees as keys to the future of the Bangladesh apparel. Mr. Mostafiz founded the Bangladesh Apparel Exchange (BAE) to promote sustainable practices within the Bangladesh apparel industry and to raise the country’s image through different initiatives under the banner of BAE, including the Sustainable Apparel Forum (SAF), Bangladesh Fashionology Summit and Bangladesh Denim Expo. Through these endeavours he strives to promote the advance of sustainable practices, including environmentally sound production methods, full transparency, innovation, circularity and technology.
Lucrezia Busa is the Member of Cabinet of Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders responsible for data protection, Artificial Intelligence and other digital files as well as company law. Prior to working for Commissioner Reynder’s private office, she worked for ten years for the Directorate General for competition of the European Commission. She also worked in the digital team of the Secretariat General and for the Directorate General for Trade of the European Commission. Ms Busa worked was senior legal adviser to the French company Electricite’ de France, EdF, the biggest electricity company world-wide and worked as a lawyer in private practice. She was admitted to the Rome Bar in 2005. She graduated from the Law faculty of the University of Rome, La Sapienza, and attended post-graduated courses on European law at the European University Institute of the Universite’ Libre de Bruxelles and holds a LLM from the College of Europe in Bruges.