About the Agreement

Irresponsible business practices in the renewable energy sector can negatively affect humans, environment and biodiversity. For instance, solar and wind energy projects can result in deforestation, loss of natural habitat and marine life, create barriers for the movement of birds and animals and potentially cause significant impacts to ecosystems. Human rights abuses, such as breach of labor rights, use of forced labor or child labor, exploitation of the rights of indigenous people and communities can also occur in the various stages of solar and wind energy supply chains.

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.

Since 2019, negotiations have been taking place between a multi-stakeholder group of participants to reach an international responsible business conduct agreement for the renewable energy sector. A diverse group of industry associations, companies, trade unions, NGOs, knowledge institutions and the Dutch government are involved in the process. The Dutch Social and Economic Council facilitates the process 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.

International standards

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.