Environmental & climate protection for crisis-proof value chains

raw material miningClick to enlarge
Production and consumption in Germany are dependent on functional global supply chains.
Source: bheka / Fotolia

This is the message of a virtual panel discussion hosted by OECD, UBA and UNEP in the context of current debates on the vulnerability of global value chains to crises and the legal regulation of human rights and environmental due diligence. The discussion focused on the need to better dovetail environmental protection and respect for human rights.

Environmental degradation and climate change affect the economy and the international flow of goods. Damage to infrastructure due to increasing extreme weather events and sea-level rise, changes in agricultural yields or persistent low water levels in rivers - for example due to more frequent and more intensive summer droughts - can bring the supply chains of German companies to a standstill.

The virtual panel discussion "Building environmental resilience and responding to global crises through supply chain due diligence", attended by 250 participants, focused on how companies can do their bit for the environment and climate change mitigation within their supply chains. The panel discussion was a side session of this year's “Global Forum on Responsible Business Conduct” of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). 

Christoph Töpfer of the German Environment Agency (UBA) delivered a short presentation on the need to take stronger account of environmental impact in global supply and value chains across all sectors. He referred to current UBA research results concerning the implementation of environmental due diligence and the environmental criticality of raw materials. He also presented to the international audience a measure in the new Raw Materials Strategy of the Federal Government on the basis of which the Federal Ministry for the Environment aims to launch an international guide for environmental due diligence in raw materials supply chains (Measure 15). The implementation of the measure is to occur in close cooperation with the OECD.  

Other talks addressed:

  • A new guide for corporations published by the Japan Ministry of the Environment (Naomi Sugo), 
  • The role which the environment plays in existing OECD documents (Louis Marechal, OECD), 
  • How Covid-19 can adversely affect national environmental and social policies (Sara Seck, Dalhousie University), 
  • Approaches by the BMW Group to sustainable supply chain management (Niels Angel) 
  • Evaluation criteria for sustainable investments at the French bank BNP Paribas (Helena Vines Fiestas). 

Closing statements by Arnold Kreilhuber (United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Director Law Division) and Cristina Tébar-Less (OECD, Acting Head, Centre for Responsible Business Conduct) pointed out the necessity and importance of cooperation between international organisations, but also with national actors. OECD and UNEP are currently planning further work on the environmental impacts in the value chains of selected sectors. 

At European level, Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders had recently announced a regulatory initiative by the European Commission regarding due diligence for companies. This ties in with the implementation of the European Conflict Minerals Regulation, current efforts by the European Commission to amend the Batteries Directive and initiatives on deforestation-free supply chains. Germany is currently developing vertices for a national due diligence act.