Evaluation of the Dutch Responsible Business Conduct Agreements
On 10 July 2020 Dutch Minister Sigrid Kaag presented to Parliament an evaluation study conducted by KIT Royal Tropical Institute on the Dutch Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) Agreements.
The evaluation was commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the context of its project ‘Putting Responsible Business Conduct Measures in Perspective’ to evaluate and review its current policy on RBC.
The objective of this evaluation is to gain insight into the extent to which RBC agreements advance the implementation of due diligence in conformity with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) in Dutch sectors with high RBC risks, such as labour, environmental, corruption or human rights issues.
The report covers 11 RBC agreements in the following sectors: coal, garments and textile, banking, forestry, gold, food products, insurance, pension funds, metals, floriculture and natural stones.
The evaluation covers three result levels, moving from outputs (activities of RBC agreements and connected parties/companies), to outcomes (implementation of due diligence by companies), and finally, to impacts (examples of improvement on the ground by addressing negative impacts in value chains).
The evaluation concludes that substantial progress on due diligence implementation in line with the OECD Guidelines and UNGPs can only be reported for the agreements on garments and textile, and banking, which were both signed in 2016. Still, the report suggests that overall, more progress on due diligence can be observed in sectors with an RBC agreement than in those without one.
The report makes 14 recommendations to make the RBC agreements more effective
- Improve monitoring and reporting on due diligence progress
- Enhance internal transparency of company performance
- Improve monitoring and reporting on collective impact
- Create demand for RBC by applying a buyer-supplier model
- Improve outreach strategies to attract companies based on a clear value proposition
- Focus on targeted support to SMEs
- Facilitate meaningful collective engagement with (potentially) affected stakeholders
- Improve access to remedy via effective complaints mechanisms
- Put more emphasis on international alignment and upscaling
- Improve role efficiency and build linkages for better availability of expertise
- Establish clear minimum standards for future RBC agreements and agreement renewals
- Explore alternative—more efficient ways—to achieve the key outputs of the RBC agreements, particularly for those sectors with no or limited coverage.
- Integrate the RBC agreements in a broader RBC policy landscape to overcome companies’ constraints in achieving compliance and impact on the ground.
- Set up a learning agenda for continuous learning and improvement