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How to ensure a positive role of the private sector in Sustainable Development? A 10-points roadmap for the EU

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The European NGO confederation for relief and development, CONCORD, has launched its new report “10 point roadmap for Europe on the role of the private sector in development” compiling ten areas of action for the EU to ensure a fair, sustainable and accountable contribution of the private sector to the 2030 Agenda. The European Coalition for Corporate Justice has collaborated with recommendations aimed at ensuring that business enterprises operating outside the EU respect human rights and the environment.

Although primarily addressed to States, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development demands efforts from all sectors of society. In particular, the 2030 Agenda calls on “all businesses to apply their creative and innovation to solving sustainable development challenges”. Private companies are indeed gaining a greater role in the fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as is well reflected in the recently adopted European Consensus for Development.

This increasing attention paid to the role of private companies in the achievement of global goals has not been accompanied with the needed focus on mechanisms to guarantee that companies themselves respect human rights. As it has already been pointed out, the EU plan to implement the SDGs so far doesn’t take into account the urgent need to address the negative impacts the private sector has caused for people and the planet.

The new report 10 point roadmap for Europe on the role of the private sector in development elaborates ten areas of action where the EU should address accountability, effectiveness and sustainability. Among these measures, the document includes the need to address gaps in the legal framework and mechanisms to hold companies accountable for the impacts of their actions. This governance gap constitutes a serious obstacle to the realisation of the SDGs and human rights for all. The regulation of corporate conduct is crucial for the fulfilment of the SDGs in general. More specifically, it is essential to make production and consumption in Europe more sustainable (SDG 12).

In short, in order to guarantee that the EU contributes to the objectives of sustainable development, the report calls on the EU and Member States to:

  • Adopt a mandatory human rights due diligence regulatory framework at EU level, backed with adequate monitoring and enforcement mechanisms. Legislative initiatives by Member States should also be encouraged.
  • Contribute proactively and constructively to the ongoing process of the elaboration of a binding UN treaty on business and human rights.

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