Companies need to take responsibility for impact of their activities on human rights and environment

The European Commission tabled in February 2022 a proposal for a directive to legislate the impacts of corporate activities on human rights and environment, the Corporate sustainability due diligence proposal. Details can be found here.

In numerous cases EU companies link their activities with violations of human rights and with sever impacts on environment and climate change not only within the EU but in particular in their activities outside the EU territory. Big corporations are responsible for a significant part of global GHG emissions, violation of human rights through land grabbing, forcing indigenous people from their habitats, depraving them access to their land and water, often forcing people work for very low wage and in inhuman conditions.   

The directive offers a tool aiming at ceasing human rights and environmental violations as imbued in commercial activities. Its aim is to prevent, cease and mitigate adverse impacts of companies‘ activities on human rights and the environment. 

However, the proposal contains significant flaws that risk preventing the directive from achieving the positive impact that people, planet, and climate urgently need.

This is necessary in order to ensure that the law will effectively prevent corporate harm to human rights, the environment and climate; as well as ensure that victims of corporate abuse have access to effective remedies.

The directive, in spite of good intentions fails to address several important components. To the most relevant belong: not forcing companies to a systematic and all-covering action, while addressing only some companies’ activities; is not addressing environmental degradation, does not contain enforceable climate change obligations, is lacking transparency, and others.

In efforts for improve the text CIDSE, an umbrella organization for Catholic development agencies launched an initiative inviting church and faith-based leaders to join in requesting additional action from the European Commission.

Further information about the initiative, as well as background information about the European Commission proposal is available here. Under this address is possible to find the text of the statement, which church and faith leaders are invited to sign in expressing the support for this initiative.