About the Agreement
The production of solar panels and wind turbines can have adverse consequences for people, the environment and biodiversity. For example, companies can be faced with problems such as deforestation and the loss of natural habitats for animals. Human rights violations, such as forced and child labour, lack of freedom of association, unsafe working conditions and exploitation of the rights of local communities can also occur in the value chains of solar and wind energy. These value chains are complex and lack transparency, which makes it difficult for an individual company to address such risks by themselves.
By applying international responsible business conduct standards, solar and wind energy companies, developers and manufacturers of wind turbines, solar panels and their components can limit actual or potential negative impact of their operations and supply chains on people and the environment.
On March 6, 2023 the new International RBC Agreement for the Renewable Energy Sector was signed. A broad coalition of solar and wind energy companies, industry associations, the Dutch government, knowledge institutions, NGOs and trade unions committed themselves to the Agreement. The Dutch Social and Economic Council (SER) facilitates the Agreement and forms the independent secretariat. This agreement aims to assist wind and solar energy companies to improve their human rights and environmental due diligence practices.
The relevant international standards on responsible business conduct are the 2011 United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and the 2011 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (OECD Guidelines). These standards form the basic principles of the agreement.
Many European countries, such as France, Germany and Switzerland have already adopted laws to implement these international standards. At the European level, similar legislation is being prepared. Once adopted, this law will require companies in the European Union to apply international responsible business conduct.
What will this agreement achieve?
Through the envisaged agreement, the companies commit to implementing the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) in their operations and throughout their supply chains. The other participants in the agreement commit to specific actions to foster and support the due diligence implementation by the companies.
Collectively, all the participants in the process aim to explore, identify and address the risks and impacts for people and the environment in the operations and supply chains of the renewable energy sector.
The multi-stakeholder collaboration aims to offer shared solutions to address problems that companies cannot solve entirely by themselves.