Certain sectors face particular challenges when it comes to CSR. Sector-specific CSR tools are useful for helping enterprises exercise responsible business conduct in connection with specific sectors and products. In addition, enterprises operating in areas where the government takes little or no regulatory responsibility at all face major challenges. The federal government initiates and supports sector-specific tools.
Raw Materials Sector
The Background report on commodities published by the Swiss Federal Council in 2013 offered recommendations concerning possible risks affecting human rights, environmental and social standards, corruption and an enterprise’s reputation. The Federal Council supports the following tools and initiatives in particular:
- A guidance, “The Commodity Trading Sector Guidance on Implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights” was launched in November 2018 for commodity trading companies. Jointly elaborated by companies from the sector, NGOs and the concerned cantonal and federal authorities, among which the SECO, this guidance provides companies active in commodity trading with a listing of receipts enabling them implement the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights as well as related OECD Guidances.
- OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas: This guidance helps enterprises operating in the raw materials industry in conflict-affected and high-risk areas to exercise their due diligence for the supply chain and thus prevent them indirectly supporting conflicts or contributing to human rights abuses. The guidance contains two supplements on the specific challenges involved in mining and trading in tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold.
- OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Meaningful Stakeholder Engagement in the Extractive Sector:
This guidance helps mining, oil and gas enterprises take stakeholder interests into account (e.g. local communities, employees, artisanal miners) within the framework of their corporate due diligence.
- Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights for Mining and Oil Enterprises: These principles help mining and oil enterprises evaluate risks and take measures to ensure that they comply with human rights when the safety of these enterprises is protected by security companies, the military and police forces.
- Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative: This initiative improves the transparency of payments made to the governments of producer countries by raw materials enterprises that work with oil, gas and minerals.
- Better Gold Initiative: This project builds value chains for sustainably produced gold from the mine to the market.
- UN Environment International Resource Panel: This panel focuses on the economic basis for potential political solutions and measures to separate economic development from the use of resources.
Transparent and fair land use systems that promote access to land and other natural resources, especially for poorer communities, are particularly important in rural areas in developing countries. At the same time, responsible investment in agriculture and food systems is needed to secure food supply around the world. By exercising due diligence for their value chain, enterprises avoid having any adverse effects on society and the environment. Among others, the following tools are useful for implementing these issues:
- Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of the United Nations: These guidelines advise countries and enterprises, among others, on internationally recognised practices for land use systems, helping to improve the relevant country’s regulations and the corresponding policies, increasing transparency on these matters and honing the skills of the competent authorities.
- Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems: These principles identify the most important stakeholders and their responsibility as regards sustainable investment in agriculture and food systems, and serve as a framework for their activities.
- OECD-FAO Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains: This guidance helps agricultural enterprises exercise their due diligence for a sustainable value chain based on international standards.
Due to the many different types of investment and complex business models in the financial sector, there are many risks for potential adverse effects on society and the environment. The following tools and initiatives serve to reduce these risks:
- OECD Responsible Business Conduct in the Financial Sector: The OECD provides the financial sector (including institutional investors) with tools for implementing the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
- Thun Group: As part of this initiative, universal banks operating at an international level have prepared a discussion paper for implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
- Swiss Sustainable Finance: Swiss Sustainable Finance serves to position Switzerland on the global market for sustainable finance and as a platform for the surrounding dialogue.
- UNEP Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System: This initiative serves to collect best practice examples and experience from different countries and define strategies for finance systems to take a better approach to sustainable development requirements.
Countries and enterprises often commission private military and security companies to protect their safety in armed conflicts and areas where the rule of law is under threat. The Montreux Document provides an overview of the international legal obligations of private military and security companies deployed in armed conflicts. It also offers good advice on methods countries can use to meet their international legal obligations. By signing the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers, enterprises undertake to adhere to human rights and international humanitarian law in areas where the rule of law is under threat.
Garment and Footwear Sector
The garment and footwear sector is one of the biggest consumer goods sectors in the world. It poses potential risks relating to adverse effects on society and the environment arising from the direct operations of an enterprise or its value chain. The OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear Sector serves to implement the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, in particular in terms of due diligence concerning human rights and the environment in the value chain. The guidance aims to help enterprises identify and reduce potential risks and to report on them.