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Evaluation of the Dutch RBC Agreements 2014-2020

KIT was contracted by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to evaluate and review 11 sector-level multi-stakeholder agreements on responsible business conduct (RBC agreements).



The objective of this evaluation was to gain an insight into the extent to which the RBC agreements advance the implementation of due diligence by companies in conformity with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The insights gained from this evaluation feed into the renewal of the Dutch policy on international responsible business conduct scheduled for autumn 2020.

RBC Agreements

Multi-stakeholder RBC agreements—between sector associations, companies, government, and civil society—aim to promote international responsible business conduct and result in positive impacts for people negatively affected by business operations in global value chains.

The evaluation 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/TruStone. The oil and gas, chemical and electronics sectors were analysed to understand their progress on due diligence according to international RBC guidelines in the absence of an RBC agreement.

The evaluation follows a theory-based approach focused on validating the underlying Theory of Change of the different RBC agreements by gathering evidence on the achieved outputs, outcomes and examples of impact. This evidence was gathered from 134 stakeholder interviews and a review of secondary data.

Evaluation Results

The evaluation concluded that the RBC agreements only cover a small percentage of the companies in Dutch sectors with “high RBC risks” and that there is as yet limited progress in terms of changing due diligence practices among the companies that participate in the RBC agreements. Consequently, KIT did not observe a reduction in the negative impacts in global value chains as a result of the RBC agreements.

The findings do, however, confirm an important role for the RBC agreements in promoting responsible business conduct as part of a broader RBC policy.

The RBC agreements:

  1. Stimulate companies to publicly commit to comply with the RBC guidelines and follow up on those commitments
  2. Raise awareness and create space for cross-sector knowledge exchange
  3. Offer a platform for innovative collaborations, building trust, and to discuss alleged misconduct in value chains.

KIT assessed the strengths and weaknesses of the agreements and made 14 recommendations to improve their effectiveness. These recommendations feed into the new policy by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on international responsible business conduct.


  • Evaluation of the Dutch RBC Agreements 2014-2020

    • Institute
    • Publication

    Are voluntary multi-stakeholder approaches to responsible business conduct effective? This report presents the findings of the evaluation of sector-level agreements on Responsible Business Conduct (henceforth RBC agreements). The evaluation was commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the context of its project ‘Putting Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) Measures in Perspective’ to evaluate and […]

  • Evaluation of the Dutch Responsible Business Conduct Agreements

    • Institute
    • News

    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 […]

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