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Article

30 Nov 2020

Author:
Dante Pesce, Vice-Chair, UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights

Keynote remarks by Vice-Chair of the UN Working Group at B+HR Asia Lab 4

The UNGPs have contributed to significant achievements, but much more is needed to realize their vision... We need to move from pockets of innovations from governments, business and multi-stakeholder initiatives, to speed up and scale up efforts to embed the UNPGs into the mainstream.

Our project has engaged in this essential discussion for some time now. We kicked off with a global multi-stakeholder launch in July and have continued through consultations with stakeholders...

[L]et me share some of our reflections on the big picture that we think is getting clearer...

As we look toward solutions, UNGPs10+ seeks to seize on emerging action, opportunities and drivers to further embed respect for human rights at the core of business, faster and more widely. Several of those were reinforced at the annual global Forum:

  • Our future is one of mandatory measures...
  • The future is financial...
  • The future is data driven...
  • Business organizations can play a catalyst role – but we need to address policy coherence to put pillar 2 into practice more widely...
  • We also need to talk about business leadership (maybe political too) and what it means...
  • Let us leverage the alignment between standards for responsible business...
  • Let us also build and leverage the regional races to the top...
  • The wider debate on stakeholder capitalism is another opportunity, but we need to connect more loudly...
  • Finally, more of a challenge and a constant theme: the need for government action. A key message to States everywhere: responsible business needs to be a key ingredient of responses to COVID-19 and the economic crisis. And we can’t wait forever in terms of levelling the playing field...

I would also like to briefly reflect on another element, which is more philosophical related to justice and the need to use an “historical injustice” lens to look at systemic racism, discrimination, environmental degradation, abuses of power, and so on. We also need to think about intergenerational justice, thinking about future generations and what we are inheriting to the ones yet unborn, in terms of social justice, racial justice, environmental justice, gender justice, and judicial justice.

My personal vision is to think about milestones going beyond our own lives, articulating a transformational narrative towards 2030, 2050, 2100+, taking a “building blocks” approach, with different measures on different speed, but articulated and synergetic, towards aspirational goals.

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