European Round Table
Addressing Due Diligence in Supermarket Supply Chains –
June 20th, Brussels
The SUPPLY CHA!NGE project aims to improve labor conditions in countries of the global South and reduce environmental damage along the food supply chains. The project is especially targeting store brand food products sold in European supermarkets, striving to make them greener and fairer.
In order to continue the dialogue with retailers that we started at the national round tables we will gather together government, retailers and CSO representatives so that we can set the base of a common understanding of food supply chains at an European level and get some agreements on how to improve food supply chains.
The importance of due diligence in food supply chains
In recent years, the concept of due diligence has evolved into a much debated approach to define, regulate and implement corporate social and environmental responsibility in global supply chains. This is particularly important for the agri-food industry which is increasingly shaped by globalised value chains. Food processors and retailers have benefited from international production and sourcing but are continuously confronted with studies from civil society that reveal human rights violations and environmentally destructive practices in their supply chains. Whether labour rights violations on orange plantations in Brazil or conflicts over land rights through the acceleration of palm oil plantations in Indonesia, companies are increasingly challenged to implement risk-based systems to identify, assess, mitigate, prevent and account for how they address actual and potential adverse social and environmental impacts that are caused directly or indirectly by their business activities.
At the same time policy makers are debating intensely on how to provide adequate legal frameworks for human rights and environmental due diligence in specific sectors. In 2016, the European Council encouraged “the Commission to enhance the implementation of due diligence and to foster dialogue and cooperation amongst all relevant public and private stakeholders, in order to achieve a global level playing field and to implement policy measures aimed at promoting e.g. human rights due diligence at company-level.”
The European Roundtable provides a space for such a multi-stakeholder discussion and common understanding on the challenges of implementing human rights and environmental due diligence in food supply chains. It is part of a wider attempt from civil society to promote a SUPPLY CHA!NGE amongst European retailers.