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Siemens and Thyssenkrupp respond to NGO letter on mining activities in indigenous territories in Brasil

In a public letter dated 29 August 2019, Dachverband Kritische Aktionäre (Association of Ethical Shareholders Germany), AK Rohstoffe (Natural resources working group) and Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland e.V. (German Association for the Environment and the Protection of Nature) called on Siemens and Thyssenkrupp to not engage in mining activities in indigenous territories in Brasil through supplying equipment (in German, available below).

The organisations are concerned about the ongoing destruction of the Amazon for industrial and economic gain, driven largely by President Bolsanaro's policies, and the impact this has on the environment and indigenous peoples whose territory and land are under threat. Specifically, they call on Siemens and Thyssenkrupp to 

  • Declare publicly that they will not supply any machines or services for mining activities in indigenous territories in Brazil
  • Ensure that products they import are not linked to land grabbing 
  • Commit to human rights and in particular the rights of indigenous people in the Amazon.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Siemens and Thyssenkrupp to comment and provide a full statement in response to the letter. Their responses are available below.

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Company response
16 September 2019

Response by Siemens

Author: Siemens

We share your concerns regarding the general situation in the Amazon rainforest and strongly condemn every form of violence.

Respect for human rights is a core principle of Siemens. We are fully committed to the UN Guiding Principles and to their implementation as a global standard for preventing and combating the negative impact of a company’s business activities on human rights. We are committed to the OECD guidelines for multinational companies, and our own Business Conduct Guidelines expressly require that we act in accordance with them. The obligation to protect human rights, in particular, is of paramount importance for us.

Siemens systematically reviews its compliance with human rights. If we are involved in projects that – despite our previous examination – have adverse effects on human rights, we take steps to prevent or mitigate those effects. Siemens also expects its suppliers and business partners to respect human rights.

In addition to laws and regulations in individual countries, there are also many agreements with and recommendations by international organizations that are noteworthy in this regard. Although these documents are addressed primarily to member countries rather than companies, they nonetheless provide important guidelines for the behavior of global enterprises like Siemens.

We are aware of the obligations regarding Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) – above all, in cases in which indigenous peoples are affected. The resulting obligations to obtain consent lie with the parties that participate in developing projects locally. These parties are in the best position to meet such obligations since they know and can assess local conditions and the challenges facing local populations.

Siemens has no business activities in the indigenous areas in which the Brazilian government is planning to permit mining activities. Nor does Siemens have any plans to initiate business activities in those areas.

At our 14 factories and seven R&D centers in Brazil, we currently employ nearly 6,000 people. Our activities in Brazil contribute directly or indirectly about €5 billion to the country’s GDP and create directly or indirectly 260,000 jobs. In 2018, we were awarded the prize for Brazil’s most sustainable company in the electrical engineering field (Exame). 

We are in intensive discussions with stakeholders from all sides of the political spectrum in Brazil. In addition, we closely coordinate our activities relating to Brazil with the Federation of German Industry. You may be assured that we are monitoring the developments in Brazil very carefully.

Company response
9 September 2019

Response by Thyssenkrupp

Author: Thyssenkrupp

Thyssenkrupp is clearly committed to sustainability and responsible business conduct. Climate protection, the protection of the environment and the respect for human rights are integral part of our corporate values as expressed in our Code of Conduct and our commitment to the United Nations Global Compact. 

For all our business activities globally, the principles of our Code of Conduct, which is based on the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the core labor standards of the ILO. They are a clear guideline for the actions of all our employees - from the Executive Board and managers to each individual employee – and are specified further in different internal regulations and procedures. 

As we are committed to these values in all our operations, we expect our business partners to share this commitment with us. We have defined our expectations of sustainability and compliance in our Supplier Code of Conduct (SCoC) and we strive to work only with suppliers whose business activities fully comply with the principles of our Supplier Code of Conduct. In addition, we systematically analyze potential sustainability risks and assess the processes of the identified suppliers via on-site audits. More on our processes can be found on our website: https://www.thyssenkrupp.com/en/company/procurement/responsible-procurem...

thyssenkrupp strongly supports the Paris Agreement, as expressed by our recently published climate targets: we want to reduce our own production-related emissions (scope 1&2) by 30% by 2030, our scope 3 emission by 16% by 2030 and strive to become climate neutral by 2050. To achieve net-zero emission globally the conservation of the rain forests as large sinks for carbon emission is of significant importance. 

We are monitoring the respective political developments in the countries in which we operate – of course including Brazil. We evaluate any concrete business activities against the standards described in this letter and take appropriate measures to avoid causing or contributing to any breaches against them. This applies to all our activities worldwide – today and in the future. 

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9 September 2019

Thyssenkrupp Stellungnahme

Author: Thyssenkrupp

thyssenkrupp bekennt sich eindeutig zu Nachhaltigkeit und verantwortlichem Wirtschaften. Klima- und Umweltschutz sowie die Achtung der Menschenrechte sind integraler Bestandteil unserer Unternehmenswerte, wie wir in unserem Verhaltenskodex und durch unser Bekenntnis zum Global Compact der Vereinten Nationen dargestellt haben. 

Die Prinzipien unseres Verhaltenskodex, der auf der Allgemeinen Erklärung der Menschenrechte der Vereinten Nationen sowie auf den Kernarbeitsnormen der Internationalen Arbeitsorganisation (ILO) basiert, gelten für all unsere Geschäftsaktivitäten weltweit. Sie sind eine klare Leitlinie für das Verhalten aller Mitarbeiter, vom Vorstand und den Führungskräften bis hin zu jedem einzelnen Mitarbeiter, und werden in verschiedenen internen Richtlinien und Vorgaben konkretisiert. 

So wie wir uns zu diesen Werten bekennen, so erwarten wir auch von unseren Geschäftspartnern, dass sie diese teilen. Wir haben unsere Erwartungen bezüglich Nachhaltigkeit und Compliance in unserem Supplier Code of Conduct (SCoC) formuliert 

und streben an, nur mit Lieferanten zusammenzuarbeiten, die vollständig im Einklang mit den im SCoC dargelegten Prinzipien handeln. Zusätzlich analysieren wir regelmäßig potenzielle Nachhaltigkeitsrisiken und prüfen die Prozesse der identifizierten Lieferanten durch Audits vor Ort. Mehr zu unseren Maßnahmen finden Sie auch auf unserer Internetseite: https://www.thyssenkrupp.com/de/unternehmen/einkauf/verantwortungsvolle-...

thyssenkrupp unterstützt das Pariser Klimaschutzabkommen, wie unsere kürzlich veröffentlichten Klimaziele verdeutlichen: wir wollen unsere Scope 1 &2-Emissionen bis 2030 um 30% reduzieren, unsere Scope 3-Emissionen bis 2030 um 16% und streben an, bis 2050 klimaneutral zu werden. Um weltweit Nettonullemissionen zu erreichen, ist der 

Schutz der Regenwälder als große CO2-Senken von großer Bedeutung. Wir beobachten die entsprechenden politischen Entwicklungen in den Ländern, in denen wir tätig sind – selbstverständlich auch in Brasilien. Jede konkrete Geschäftsaktivität bewerten wir im Hinblick auf die bereits genannten Standards und ergreifen angemessene Maßnahmen, um zu vermeiden, Verstöße gegen diese Standards zu verursachen oder zu solchen Verstößen beizutragen. Dies gilt für alle unsere Aktivitäten weltweit – heute und in Zukunft. 

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Author: Dachverband Kritische Aktionäre, AK Rohstoffe, BUND (Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland e.V.)

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