News & Updates
On 6th August, 2019, the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce (IGCC) and amfori jointly organized a forum on “How to achieve sustainable supply chains” in Kolkata. With the objectives of raising awareness of the importance and need for sustainability, establishing the importance of Gender Equality and sharing frameworks, standards and guidelines for sustainability, the forum focussed on the business case for sustainability.
The Forum entailed two panel discussions on Women Empowerment in the Supply Chains and Decent Working Conditions in the Supply Chains. Some of the distinguished speakers at the Forum were buyers, suppliers and retailers in leather, textiles and handicrafts industries as well as representatives of amfori and IGCC.
The welcome address was given by Dr. Michael Feiner, the Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Kolkata. Following him were Mr. Nari Kalwani, Chairman, Eastern Region, IGCC, and Ms. Joyce Chau, Director Asia Pacific, amfori. They spoke about human rights in business, sustainable practices and ways to conform to them and the interlinkage of human rights and business.
Both panels also included representatives of companies, national and international non-governmental organisations and labour unions. Issues discussed in the panel on women empowerment were gender discrimination, women’s role in unorganized sectors, women to gain handholding in work with the help of the government and corporate houses and women, being productive workers.
Points of reflection in the panel on decent working conditions were the implementation of sustainable practices in the supply chains, workers’ rights in unorganized sectors, food sustainability audits, fair trade and social protection of workers.
This Forum provided an opportunity to learn about the importance of sustainability and the need for training in implementing some of the best sustainable social compliance practices in industries in India, especially in West Bengal.
The event was kindly supported by Asian Leather, Deutsche Bank, Gloster Limited and the Indian Leather Products Association.
In 2016, the German government issued a National Action Plan (NAP) on business and human rights. The document is based on the United Nations “Guiding Principles”, a global standard to prevent and address adverse impacts on human rights by economic activities. Currently, the government is evaluating the adherence to the NAP in a two-year monitoring process. If until 2020, less than half of German companies with more than 500 employees observe human rights due diligence in their business conduct, the government has announced to consider making the NAP legally binding.
The core elements of the NAP that companies have to realise are a human rights statement, the identification of and measures to ward off adverse impacts on human rights, reporting and grievance mechanisms. Since these specifications also apply to German subsidiaries abroad, the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce (IGCC) in cooperation with the German Embassy and other partners established the Indo-German Network Business and Human Rights and is working on structures to aid companies in implementing the NAP.
The first step is to assess the awareness and existing activities of German companies. Towards this end, IGCC in cooperation with the German Consulates conducted round tables at six locations and discussed conditions and requirements as well as advantages and disadvantages of the NAP. About 120 representatives of leading German companies participated in the round tables in Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Chennai.
The results of the discussions show that the demographic, cultural and geographical conditions in India complicate the realisation of the NAP. While about half of the participants were conscious of the German initiative, major tasks of the Network that were identified will be to increase the awareness for human rights and to offer practical knowledge on its enforcement. Participants also asked for platforms to exchange experiences and award-like incentives to foster its implementation. IGCC and its partners will be starting to offer such services in autumn 2019.
This project contributes to the following SDGs: