About this Agreement
Society increasingly expects companies to take responsibility for every aspect of their production and supply chain. For this to happen, they need to join forces and cooperate with other stakeholders. A joint approach makes it possible to tackle abuses collectively. In addition to approaching these issues within the national borders of the Netherlands through the involvement of a Dutch industry association, this is the first such multistakeholder agreement to also have international backing thanks to the participation of a European industry association.
Dutch companies in the metals sector often rely on the import of raw materials for their production. The RBC Sector Risk Analysis, carried out on behalf of the Dutch authorities, showed that the metals sector runs an increased risk of violating human rights, fundamental labour rights, and environmental and biodiversity standards and of having a negative impact on local communities. Moreover, the supply chains for many raw materials offer only limited transparency. The Dutch metals sector also works with recycled metal. Using responsibly recycled metal helps to reduce the demand for primary raw materials and contributes to a circular economy. Metals companies also wish to identify areas for improvement in the metals recycling segment.
IRBC agreements are a means for the business community and other stakeholders to improve their performance with regard to international responsible business conduct. A number of companies are already in the process of identifying and addressing risks. Based on the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, however, the sector has observed gaps in its approach.
The agreement will also help the metals sector prepare for the EU’s Conflict Minerals Regulation, which will enter into force in 2021 and which obliges large importers to investigate the source of their raw materials. In addition, the Dutch government must adhere to the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights and Business and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Compliance with these international guidelines also supports progress towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Large sector, international agreement
The agreement specifically covers all metals and the entire international metals supply chain, including metals processing companies and end-users. Most of the Dutch metals supply chain consists of SMEs. They supply base metals and semi-finished products to the automotive, construction, chemicals, aerospace, electronics and other industries for further processing. The supply chain is highly international in scope and includes metals recycling.
The agreement focuses on national and international metals companies with the aim of improving the visibility of the entire supply chain and maximising the impact of the participants’ collective activities.