Sustainability Initiatives and Tools
Sustainability is expected of companies today - and not only at their own location, but also throughout their supply chains. Companies that want to live up to this responsibility can find support from committed initiatives.
German Institute for Human Rights
The German Institute for Human Rights is Germany's independent National Human Rights Institution (Section 1 of the DIMR Act). It works to ensure that Germany respects and promotes human rights at home and abroad. The Institute also accompanies and monitors the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and has established corresponding monitoring bodies for this purpose.
The Institute's tasks include policy advice, human rights education, information and documentation as well as application-oriented research on human rights issues. The Institute also sees itself as a forum for exchange between the state and civil society, academia and practice, as well as national and international actors. The Institute works closely with international human rights bodies.
The Institute's public library provides research literature and journals on human rights. It has the largest stock of materials on human rights education in Germany.
Actors and Initiatives for Fair Business
Many companies join sustainability networks and commit to complying with their standards. In doing so, they underline how seriously they take their responsibility.
Alliance for Integrity
The Alliance for Integrity is a business-driven multi-stakeholder initiative with the aim of strengthening transparency and integrity in the economic system. The platform offers practical solutions to strengthen the compliance capacities of companies and their suppliers. It also promotes dialogue between the public and private sectors. Through an extensive network of anti-corruption and compliance experts, the Alliance for Integrity facilitates the exchange of knowledge between local and global partners and supports small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in particular, in implementing proven corruption prevention measures.
Partnership for Sustainable Textiles
The Partnership for Sustainable Textiles is a multi-stakeholder initiative with members from business, associations, trade unions, civil society, standards organisations and the German government. As the first point of contact for all companies that want to assume their environmental and human rights responsibilities throughout the supply chain, it offers a broad network and support. The focus is on corporate due diligence as described in the NAP, among others. To enable member companies to meet their due diligence obligations, the Partnership has developed a sector-specific implementation framework and a reporting format. In addition, it initiates joint partnership initiatives in production countries, for example on living wages, wastewater management and grievance mechanisms.
Chemie³ is the sustainability initiative of the German chemical industry. It is supported by the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI), the Mining, Chemical and Energy Industrial Union (IG BCE) and the German Federation of Chemical Employers‘ Associations (BAVC). Together, the three alliance partners want to anchor sustainability as a guiding principle in the industry. To this end, Chemie³ has developed twelve "Sustainability Guidelines for the Chemical Industry in Germany". The initiative supports companies in the German chemical industry in implementing the guidelines. In addition, Chemie³ maintains a dialogue with stakeholders from politics, business, science and society.
The Danish Institute for Human Rights
The Danish Institute for Human Rights is an independent, state-funded institution. Its mission is to promote and protect human rights and equal treatment in Denmark and abroad.
Internationally, the Danish Institute for Human Rights cooperates with national human rights institutions, state institutions, private companies and the judicial system. It helps build functioning legal systems abroad and secures the influence of civil society. The Institute supports private companies in assessing the impact of their work on human rights.
DEKSOR - Deutsche Kontrollstelle EU-Sorgfaltspflichten in Rohstofflieferketten
EU importers of the conflict resources tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold and their ores must comply with due diligence requirements in their supply chains (EU Regulation 2017/821). The Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) is designated as the competent member state authority vis-à-vis the EU Commission. DEKSOR is the "German Control Authority for EU Due Diligence in Raw Material Supply Chains" responsible at BGR and performs the corresponding sovereign tasks. It carries out annual risk-based inspections of importers with regard to compliance with due diligence obligations in Germany. For this purpose, selected companies are requested to submit evidence that document compliance with their due diligence obligations. In addition, on-site inspections of the companies can be carried out. In doing so, DEKSOR coordinates closely with the competent authorities of the other EU member states to ensure that inspections are carried out uniformly throughout the EU. In addition, DEKSOR advises importing companies on the implementation of the EU regulation.
Drive Sustainability is the joint initiative of 11 car manufacturers working for more sustainability in the automotive supply chain. Drive Sustainability's activities include training, compliance measures, as well as dialogue events and local networks. Based on Drive's sustainability guidelines, suppliers can have their sustainability performance assessed with a standardised self-assessment tool. In addition, Drive Sustainability regularly organises supplier training in different countries, tailored to the laws and conditions of the country and which deal with social and environmental sustainability, business conduct, compliance and supplier management, among other topics.
Due Diligence Ready!
Due Diligence Ready! is an online portal of the European Commission that provides support to companies in the responsible sourcing of metals and minerals. The portal also helps companies affected by regulatory requirements (e.g. the EU Regulation on "Conflict Minerals") to meet their legal obligations.
The portal is primarily aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) - but can be used by any company dealing with minerals and metals in its supply chain.
Through Due Diligence Ready! companies can access information, tools and training materials to help them fulfil their human rights due diligence.
econsense connects internationally active companies with the goal of actively shaping the change towards a sustainable economy and society. The association supports its members in anchoring sustainability in the company and in the strategy along the supply chains. All relevant topics are taken into account - from human rights to environmental protection, always with a focus on the business case for sustainability. In exchange with business, politics and civil society, econsense bundles ideas and develops proposals for solutions.
German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa
The German government, represented by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), the German confectionery industry, the German food trade and civil society have joined forces in the Forum Nachhaltiger Kakao e. V. (Sustainable Cocoa Initiative). Together, they pursue the goal of improving the living conditions of cocoa farmers and their families, increasing the cultivation and marketing of cocoa certified according to sustainability standards or equivalently verified, and conserving natural resources and biodiversity in the growing countries. The members of the Forum are committed to this in cooperation with the governments of the cocoa-producing countries.
Forum for Sustainable Palm Oil
The goal of the Forum for Sustainable Palm Oil (FONAP) is to significantly increase the share of certified palm oil and palm kernel oil as well as their derivatives and fractions on the German, Austrian and Swiss markets. Together, the member companies are contributing to making 100 per cent certified palm oil and palm kernel oil available to these markets as quickly as possible. The members of the Forum have made a voluntary commitment to use only sustainably certified palm oil. The Forum is also committed to improving and increasing the transparency of the certification systems.
Global Compact Network Germany
The United Nations Global Compact is the world's largest and most important initiative for responsible corporate governance. It pursues the vision of an inclusive and sustainable global economy for the benefit of all people, communities and markets. The German Global Compact Network (DGCN) is the association of now more than 500 German signatories of the UN Global Compact - from DAX corporations to medium-sized companies to small specialists, as well as numerous organisations from civil society, science and politics. As a learning and dialogue platform, the DGCN offers practice-oriented formats such as webinars, workshops, trainings as well as conferences and expert discussions.
International Labour Organisation (ILO)
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is the oldest specialised agency of the United Nations (founded in 1919) with headquarters in Geneva and a presence on all continents. The ILO's mandate is to formulate and enforce international labour and social standards. Its aim is to promote decent work, social protection and the strengthening of social dialogue. It is the only UN organisation that is governed on an equal footing by representatives of workers' and employers' organisations as well as government representatives. The ILO representation in Germany is in dialogue with labour market and social policy actors in the federal government, the social partners, associations, companies and with civil society with the aim of enforcing decent work in Germany and social supply chains. It informs the public and provides research on global economic development, labour market indicators (employment levels, wage levels, gender issues, implementation of core labour standards) and helpdesk services for companies.
ILO Helpdesk for Business on International Labour Standards
The goal of the Helpdesk at the International Labour Organization (ILO) is to support companies and employers in bringing their business practices in line with international labour standards. The service provides companies with a wealth of information, best practice examples and tools on all topics related to international labour standards - from child labour and freedom of association to fair wages and occupational safety.
MVO Nederland is a movement of companies with the goal of creating a climate-neutral, inclusive, honest and sustainable economy. More than 2,000 companies have already joined the internationally active network. One focus is the networking of economic actors from very different sectors and industries in order to find new approaches for ambitious sustainability projects. MVO Nederland also offers companies advice, training and strategic support. The CSR Risk Check, an online tool to assess the risks and challenges for sustainable investments, is a development of MVO Nederland. The CSR Risk Check can be found on the AWE website [internal link to Risk Check]. The use of the tool is free of charge.
National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines
The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are the most important comprehensive international instrument for promoting responsible corporate behaviour. They are not legally binding, but correspond to the Federal Government's expectation of the behaviour of German companies in their cross-border activities. The National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy provides information on the Guidelines, promotes their implementation and offers a mediation or conciliation procedure in the event of complaints about their application in specific individual cases.
Partnerships2030 is a national platform for the promotion of multi-actor partnerships (MAP) and supports companies in achieving their sustainable development goals together with partners. For companies, the offer includes both advice on the conception and strategic orientation of a multi-actor partnership and networking with partners from civil society, the state and academia. To this end, feasibility studies are carried out, idea and kick-off workshops are organised, and process and legal advice is provided to set up and further develop partnerships. Partnerships2030 combines the expertise and many years of experience of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and Engagement Global - bengo.
Roundtable Human Rights in Tourism
The Roundtable Human Rights in Tourism supports companies, organisations and institutions that are committed to respecting human rights in tourism. The guiding framework for the activities of the association are the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The Roundtable is an open dialogue platform, implements human rights due diligence projects with its members and provides the industry with materials and training on human rights. The freely accessible online tool "Get Started " offers small and medium-sized tour operators the opportunity to identify human rights risks along their supply chain. Part of the "Get Started" tool is a step-by-step guide to systematically prepare and conduct a Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) in a destination in order to identify potential and actual impacts of business activities or local business partners with local stakeholders and to develop appropriate measures.
UPJ e. V.
UPJ is a network of committed companies and non-profit intermediary organisations in Germany. The focus is on projects that contribute to solving social problems by creating new connections between companies, non-profit organisations and public administrations.
The non-profit UPJ e. V. also supports these actors with information and advice in the development and implementation of their corporate citizenship and corporate social responsibility activities. UPJ implements the German version of the CSR Risk Check together with the Helpdesk on Business & Human Rights of the Agency for Business & Economic Development and MVO Nederland.
Practical Tools for Greater Sustainability
What is the status of your own sustainability? Where are the risks? Portals and online tools help companies to make an initial assessment and provide an objective basis of information.
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre works with all stakeholders to promote human rights in business and operates the only global knowledge and information portal on the subject. The international human rights organisation publishes briefings and guidance, documents both positive and negative human rights impacts of the activities of over 8,000 companies, and solicits corporate responses to allegations from civil society and the media.
CSR-in-Deutschland.de – The Federal Government's Information Portal
With www.csr-in-deutschland.de, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs provides an online information service that gives a holistic insight into CSR policy in Germany. Companies can find basic information on CSR and its thematic fields, the importance of CSR for different sectors and company divisions, as well as the value of corporate responsibility for business success. In addition to current service topics, a CSR self-check offers initial orientation on how sustainably one's own company is positioned. The CSR Prize of the Federal Government is awarded to companies that stand up for social and ecological responsibility. All information on the competition can also be found on the website. On the subpage www.wirtschaft-menschenrechte.de, the Federal Government provides information on the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (NAP). The NAP aims to enforce compliance with human rights in global supply and value chains.
Grievance Management Assessment (GMA) von CSR Europe
The Grievance Management Assessment (GMA) by CSR Europe is a tool that is used to help companies analyse the maturity and effectiveness of their operational complaint management. The GMA is based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and examines the legitimacy, accessibility, predictability, balance, transparency and compliance with the law of the management system and the extent to which the system enables continuous development (source of continuous learning) and includes interest groups in the process in a sensible manner (focus on dialogue). The GMA is based on the effectiveness criteria from the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and translates these into 29 process requirements against which companies’ management systems can be checked. The tool can be used by any company that is striving to provide/improve a functioning complaints mechanism or wants to give rights holders the option to express complaints and request redress.
Further information on this is available in this brochure.
The Sustainability Code
Companies and other organisations can use the transparency standard the Sustainability Code among other things, to report on the core elements of corporate due diligence in terms of the National Action Plan (NAP) Business and Human Rights. In order to comply with the Code, users create a declaration on 20 criteria and the supplementary performance indicators in the database. Aspects of corporate due diligence derived from the NAP have been integrated into the criterion on human rights. To submit a Sustainability Code declaration including NAP report content, the company selects the desired application level in the database.
The Sustainability Code is a project of the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE), an advisory body to the German government.
Infoportal on Human Rights Due Diligence
The free information portal MR-Sorgfalt.de of the German Global Compact Network supports companies in designing and improving their human rights due diligence processes. In the "Getting Started" section, it shows how small and medium-sized enterprises in particular can understand and manage human rights risks. Under "Advanced", the portal provides further information, good practice examples and application aids for the development of proactive and continuous due diligence processes. In addition, the online tool "Human Rights Capacity Diagnostic" enables companies to self-assess their management capacities with regard to the implementation of human rights due diligence and helps to identify gaps and next steps.