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Energy Industry, Human Rights and Animal Husbandry

Background information on the ESHR due diligence

Human Rights

Respect for human rights plays an important role in foreign trade promotion. In particular, projects that are supported with instruments of the Federal Government’s export promotion schemes are required to meet environmental, social and human rights standards. The Federal Government expects companies to respect the established human rights in their business dealings. The companies are asked to act in accordance with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (OECD Guidelines) and to comply with their due diligence duty in relation to human rights as stated in the German National Action Plan for the Implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UN Guiding Principles).

Therefore the Federal Government has set high standards for the project appraisal prior to the granting of Export Credit Guarantees.

In the course of the environmental, social and human rights impact assessment issues, such as, for example, occupational safety, health and safety of the general public, lawfulness of land acquisition and resettlement, protection of indigenous peoples, protection of cultural heritage, consultation possibilities for affected persons, labour rights (including freedom of assembly, right to trade union membership, freedom of movement, etc.), protection of minorities and other especially vulnerable groups as well as the existence of a complaints mechanism, are investigated.

In this context the reports published by the National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines (NCP) must be taken into account in the assessment pursuant to the OECD Common Approaches. The Federal Government goes beyond these requirements by taking into account complaints already received by the NCP as well as certain incidents and problems related to these (e.g. a company’s non-participation) when appraising a project. Organisations as well as individuals can turn to the NCP if they believe that there has been a breach of the OECD Guidelines.

Animal Husbandry

In connection with animal husbandry and animal transport projects animal welfare issues play an important role. Therefore, the Federal Government has championed stricter animal welfare standards for foreign trade promotion within the OECD and the World Bank Group.

Where animal husbandry projects within the scope of application of the OECD-Common Approaches are concerned, the World Bank Operational Safeguard Policies and/or the IFC Performance Standards as well as the relevant Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) Guidelines (Poultry Production, Poultry Processing, Mammalian Livestock Production, etc.) of the World Bank Group apply. Besides, the IFC Good Practice Note on Animal Welfare in Livestock Operation (including the so-called Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare) is used as guidance for the assessment of animal welfare issues.

These days, the majority of German deliveries for livestock operations already meet EU standards. However, in connection with foreign trade promotion the Federal Government does not consider it appropriate to exclusively apply German/EU standards to livestock operations. If only Germany applied EU standards, suppliers from other countries would normally win the contracts Thus, on the one hand there probably would not be any positive effect on animal welfare, on the other hand this could be a disadvantage for the German export industry.

For transactions relating to animal husbandry to which the Common Approaches do not apply, a risk assessment of animal welfare issues is usually carried out.

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Uwe Fitschen
Assessment of environmental, social and human rights issues, climate assessment