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20 Jul 2020

John Ruggie, Shift

Introductory Remarks by John Ruggie at Project Launch of 'Business & Human Rights – Towards a Decade of Global Implementation'

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The Working Group’s project is forward-looking. So are the UNGPs. They embody two core strategic concepts that are as relevant today as they were in 2011 when the Human Rights Council endorsed them unanimously.

- The first is leveraging opportunities to drive human rights considerations into everyday decisions by businesses and governments.

- The second is the need for a smart mix of measures, national and international, voluntary and mandatory, in order to achieve that aim...

[W]e are surrounded by opportunities to drive human rights considerations into every-day decisions by business and governments: building back better, the corporate purpose debate, and ESG investing...

A smart mix of measures is required to support these transformative opportunities...

A smart mix of measures would begin with consideration of the kind of mandatory human rights due diligence Commissioner Reynders has just described.

It would link the due diligence provisions to the revision of the non-financial disclosure requirements... [T]his means that the materiality construct in the reporting requirement recognizes potentially high impact risks that are emergent but not yet imminent, which is the case for climate change and certain human rights harms.

Furthermore, a smart mix would include drawing on these initiatives to promote greater consistency among ESG standards...

Finally, this level of policy coherence would provide the EU External Action Service with a robust position for engaging in the ongoing business and human rights debate in Geneva.