Side Session | 6 June
Responsible Business Roundtable: An interactive discussion on the challenges faced by companies
Organized by UNDP
Unanimously endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011, the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) provide a globally authoritative framework on how businesses can respect human rights. In little less than a decade, the UNGPs have spurred the development of policies and laws to address adverse business-related human rights impacts, including mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence laws, modern slavery acts, import bans for goods produced with forced labour, and corporate sustainability disclosure requirements, among numerous others.
Accordingly, companies are presented with a number of challenges including the need to engage company stakeholders and protect individuals and communities who may be negatively affected by business operations, including through human rights policies, human rights due diligence processes, and grievance and remediation mechanisms.
UNDP B+HR Asia Programme has been working in close coordination with government, business, civil society, academia and multilateral actors to promote the implementation of the UNGPs in Asia since 2016. In addition to regional activities such as UN Responsible Business and Human Rights Forums, UNDP works in 12 countries in Asia to promote business respect for human rights.
In this context, UNDP is organizing the Responsible Business Roundtable: An interactive discussion on the challenges faced by companies. The roundtable is open to all private sector representatives and aims to create a space where companies can discuss challenges and potential solutions in promoting greater business respect for human rights throughout their operations and value chains. The session will also inform UNDP programming on business and human rights in Asia.
About the session
The roundtable session will facilitate internal discussion among companies and other private sector actors to discuss their human rights-related challenges in a closed-door setting. Participants will be encouraged to reflect on the challenges companies face in respecting human rights in their own operations and across their supply and/or value chains, as well as on the solutions which industry peers have used to address such challenges. The discussion may focus on, for example:
Responding to changing expectations from business relationships, regulators, consumers, investors, and society at large;
Developing and enforcing corporate human rights policies and related instruments such as internal and business relationship-oriented codes of conduct;
Identifying, addressing and reporting on human rights (i.e., human rights due diligence);
Exercising leverage over business relationships, both upstream and downstream;
Establishing and operating grievance mechanisms; and
Consulting and engaging stakeholders, especially affected individuals and communities.
The roundtable discussion will serve as a platform to:
Gain new ideas on how companies can respond to emerging expectations from regulators, investors and civil society actors;
Discuss challenges and solutions to common human rights challenges faced by companies; and
Network with and learn from industry peers.
In addition, the session will inform UNDP programming on business and human rights in Asia.
9:00 – 9:10
Dr Pichamon Yeophantong, Chairperson, UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights
9:10 – 9:25
Presentation: Navigating the evolving business landscape in Asia and the Pacific
Livio Sarandrea, Global Advisor on Business and Human Rights at UNDP will provide an overview of the changing expectations that regulators, consumers and investors are imposing on business actors, and how companies can turn these challenges into business opportunities.
9:25 – 10:30
Roundtable Discussion: Challenges and solutions in promoting business respect for human rights across the value chain.
After a brief round of introductions, businesses will be encouraged to share challenges they face and seek suggestions and practices from their peers in addressing human rights risks. This includes how to develop and implement effective human rights policies; how to promote human rights standards across their operations and value chains, including through human rights due diligence, the use of leverage over business relationships; how to provide or facilitate grievance mechanisms and access to effective remedy; or how to meaningfully engage and consult with stakeholders.
The discussion will be facilitated by Ha Phung and Kevin Lehmann from the UNDP Business and Human Rights in Asia programme.
11:00 – 11:30
Participants are encouraged to network with their peers during the networking break. Drinks and snacks will be provided. Please note that additional sessions targeting business actors will take place after the break.
The roundtable discussion will be conducted in English.
To enter the UN Conference Centre in Bangkok, registration is required here.
Session focal point
Questions about the roundtable discussion may be directed to Ms. Ha Phung, Project Coordinator, Business and Human Rights at UNDP (firstname.lastname@example.org).