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Responding department: Corporate Responsibility Unit

Note: This is an English translation of Ecopetrol's Spanish language original.

Stock exchange symbol: (ECOPETL:CB)

Does your company have a publicly available commitment to respect human rights?

It is a specific human rights policy. Ecopetrol’s human rights directive is linked to the following company procedures related to its responsibility on human rights: 1. Performance directive with regard to security and human rights. 2. Due diligence procedure to ensure respect for human rights in the course of company security activities carried out by the police or by private security bodies. 3. Procedure for securing areas in order to remove illegally-installed valves and carry out repairs as a result of attacks, apiques [excavations to check the depth of pipes] or maintenance in high-risk areas for Ecopetrol oil and multi-purpose pipelines. 4. Handbook of employment-related aspects and working conditions in activities undertaken by Ecopetrol. 5. Code of Ethics. 6. Procedure for managing ethical issues and compliance. [link]

How are human rights governed in your company?

Ecopetrol has publicly expressed its commitment to respecting human rights and this is clear from its comprehensive policy, in which we describe ourselves as a company that is focused on discovering energy sources and turning them into wealth in order to ensure their sustainability and constant growth, and which carries out its activities while complying with current legal regulations, good corporate governance practices, respect for human rights and its corporate social responsibility commitments. Its actions are thus framed within seven fundamental principles that are developed within the company’s comprehensive policy. Such principles include a commitment to life, the intention of which is to show that Ecopetrol is committed to life and respect for and full implementation of human rights and environmental protection. Based on the notion of due diligence adopted within the organization, the management of human rights in Ecopetrol is based on the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle (PDCA), from which a series of tools to facilitate such management have been developed. In order to implement that management cycle, roles and responsibilities have been established both for the area of governance, namely Ecopetrol’s General Secretariat, through the Corporate Responsibility Unit, and for the areas implementing the Tactical Human Rights Plan, adopted by the company’s Human Rights Committee. These include the Labour Relations Directorate, the Physical Security Directorate, the Strategic Supplies Directorate, the Corporate Management Directorate, and the Ethics and Compliance Office, among others.

How are human rights managed within your company?

In its human rights directive, Ecopetrol sees due diligence as a thorough and pro-active process for identifying any current or potential adverse impacts on human rights arising from the decisions and activities of Ecopetrol throughout the full life cycle of a project or process, with the aim of preventing and mitigating such impacts and repairing any damage caused if that has been the case. Therefore, in order to act with due diligence, it is necessary to identify the risks and impacts on human rights in such a way that these can be managed and addressed in order to prevent and/or mitigate them. As a result of this identification, Ecopetrol has a human rights and IDH risk map which enables it to carry out periodic and systematic monitoring of risk behaviour. This monitoring in turn generates a report which the Human Rights Committee can use to adopt actions to prevent or mitigate such risks and impacts. Staff training. Training efforts have been focused on certain target groups, depending on the urgency and need to adopt tools to identify, prevent and mitigate risks with regard to human rights and IDH. This has made it possible to carry out in-depth, medium-term training on human rights. The training focuses on three areas: 1. Introduction to Human Rights and Business; 2. Management of Human Rights Risks and Impacts; 3. Human Rights Management at Ecopetrol.

What is the company’s approach to the engagement of stakeholders (including workers, and local communities impacted by the company’s activities), on human rights issues?

Ecopetrol has identified human rights as a cross-sectional issue in its model of relationship with its stakeholders to the extent that it has been identified by everyone as a relevant issue. As a result, Ecopetrol has a specific chapter on human rights in its collective bargaining agreement; it implements occasional human rights initiatives with communities; it has established long-term relations with national bodies that are responsible for respecting and guaranteeing human rights; it holds periodic public hearings in its areas of influence in order to engage in dialogue with communities. These are just some of the actions that enable the company to get involved in human rights issues.

Priority human rights issues: What are some of the priority human rights issues for your company?

The company selected the following from a check-list:

  • Health (including environmental health, workplace health & safety)
  • Workplace diversity / non-discrimination
  • Freedom of association / trade union rights
  • Forced labour and human trafficking (including in supply chains)
  • Operations in conflict zones
  • Sexual harassment
  • Relations with security forces
  • Transparency in payments to governments / responsible tax practices
  • Children (including child labour)
  • Indigenous peoples

Actions on sexual harassment

Ecopetrol, in compliance with the law, has a Coexistence Committee (Comité de Convivencia), whose purpose is to identify and deal with matters related to workplace harassment. This is an issue that is subject to periodic human rights monitoring.

Actions on operations in conflict zones

Ecopetrol has entered into and continued to develop a cooperation agreement signed in 2012 with the Presidential Programme for Comprehensive Action against Anti-Personnel Mines (Programa Presidencial para la Acción Integral contra Minas Antipersonal) (now called the Directorate for Comprehensive Action against Anti-Personnel Mines, Dirección para la Acción Integral contra Minas Antipersonal-DAICMA), in order to make progress with educating Ecopetrol staff, as well as members of communities in areas where the company operates and outside of them, on the risks posed by anti-personnel mines.

How are human rights commitments and information about how the company addresses its human rights impacts communicated, internally and externally?

Ecopetrol reports annually on its management of human rights through its sustainability report (GRI), which is also seen as a progress report on the Global Compact. Where necessary, Ecopetrol has responded directly and publicly to concerns expressed by civil society by writing to those concerned and, where necessary, issuing public statements.

What provisions does your company have in place to ensure that grievances from workers and affected communities or individuals are heard, and can you provide examples of remedies provided?

In the monitoring and checking phase, Ecopetrol has a process for ensuring that, through the periodic monitoring of information from internal and external sources, the behaviour of the risks and impacts identified with regard to human rights and international humanitarian law are tracked so that they can be managed. The analysis of risk behaviour in  Ecopetrol has been based on the system of petitions, complaints and claims (PCC) drawn up by the Office of Citizen Participation, as well as on other kinds of information generated from inside the company and outside of it. As a result of this monitoring, relevant actions are developed to prevent, mitigate and make good, where necessary, any negative impacts on human rights. Such actions might include responding in depth to the PCC of the user, conducting field visits to the Ecopetrol stakeholders affected and determining the lessons to be learned from risk situations. In this way we move forward with human rights knowledge management in Ecopetrol.

Which external and collaborative human rights initiatives does your company participate in, and what is the nature of your involvement?

Red Local del Pacto Global (Local Global Compact Network) - Comité Minero Energético (Mining and Energy Committee) - Red Colombia contra la explotación infantil (Colombian Network against Child Exploitation) - Guías Colombia (Colombian Girl Guides) – Global Compact

Which are the key one, two or three elements of your approach to human rights that been developed or amended since June 2011? Please indicate if these actions were in response to the UN Guiding Principles.

1. In the past 5 years Ecopetrol has been working to consolidate a comprehensive and systematic system for managing human rights. In 2013 this vision was embodied in the Human Rights Directive, previously Guideline, which contains the corporate commitments and statements, roles and responsibilities and operational guidelines on the issue, using the PDCA cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act). Based on this it is possible to say that Ecopetrol has a system of human rights management which is grounded in the principle of due diligence. Thus the directive makes explicit the commitment to act with due diligence to prevent risks and mitigate any adverse impacts on human rights that may stem from its operation.

2. In compliance with the principle of due diligence, Ecopetrol has devised a management system through which it seeks to identify, prevent and mitigate risks and impacts on human rights, as well as deal with any potential negative consequences its activities may have on such rights. One of the processes that underpins the human rights management system is human rights monitoring, the aim of which is to monitor the behaviour of the risks identified so that it can be used to identify concerns and incidents and implement improvements to processes within Ecopetrol.

What are some of the obstacles and challenges that your company encounters in implementing its human rights commitments?

The absence of a strong institutional framework in some areas of operation makes it difficult to distinguish the roles and responsibilities companies have when it comes to guaranteeing human rights in those areas and ensuring their effective enjoyment.