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26 Jan 2022

NOVA BHRE in collaboration with the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU

Compendium: “Business, Human Rights and the Environment in Europe - Connecting the Dots”

The field of Business and Human Rights has attracted growing attention in recent years as many cases have illustrated that companies can be involved in human rights and environmental harms in their own operations or throughout their global value chains. From issues of child labour, forced labour, poor and unsafe working conditions, to environmental damage and the climate related impact of corporate activities, all sectors are concerned and all internationally recognised human rights can be affected...

...important legislative developments towards the hardening of the soft law human rights due diligence expectations are taking place at the international, European and domestic level. In Europe and elsewhere, a growing number of jurisdictions are seeking to mandate companies to take steps in order to ensure human rights, decent work and environmental standards are upheld in their operations and in global value chains, thereby also advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals. At the EU level, various instruments imposing certain due diligence obligations to companies in relation to their adverse human rights and environmental impacts already exist. In addition, in April 2020, the European Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, announced the future introduction of a legislative initiative on mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence at the EU level.

In light of these legislative developments at the European level, and with the support of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union which was held between the 1st of January and the 30th of June 2021, the NOVA Centre on Business, Human Rights and the Environment (NOVA BHRE) organized a series of webinars gathering experts from different fields and representing various groups of stakeholders to discuss key issues on Business, Human Rights and the Environment in Europe...

The webinar series was organised in partnership with the Portuguese Ombudsman (Provedor de Justiça), the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, the Teaching Business and Human Rights Forum, and NOVA 4 The Globe and was composed of 6 episodes which aimed to 'connect the dots' between corporate due diligence and issues such as civil liability, private international law, contract and company law, the green deal, sustainable finance, and gender equality, in light of the legislative developments at the European level...

The various panels featured speakers from 6 continents including members of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, EU policy makers, established scholars, as well as lawyers, business organisations, practitioners, trade-unions, NGOs and asset managers. The recordings of the webinars are available on the YouTube channel of the NOVA BHRE. The blogs featured in this blog compendium are based on the interventions of the various speakers in the webinar series.