OECD Updates Responsible Business Conduct
During the recent OECD Council Meeting at Ministerial Level in 2023, ministers enthusiastically embraced the newly revised Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct.
These updated guidelines were specifically crafted to tackle pressing societal, environmental, and technological challenges that businesses and communities are currently facing.
As the foremost global standard for responsible business practices, the Guidelines have been widely adopted in both business operations and public policies since their last update in 2011.
They represent a collective set of recommendations from governments to multinational enterprises, aiming to bolster their contribution to sustainable development while addressing any detrimental effects their activities may have on people, the planet, and society at large.
This latest update introduces several key changes to enhance the effectiveness of the guidelines. Firstly, enterprises are encouraged to align their actions with internationally agreed-upon objectives concerning climate change and biodiversity, as well as ensuring that their lobbying efforts align with the principles outlined in the Guidelines. Moreover, there are now heightened expectations for due diligence in various areas such as technology development, financing, sale, licensing, trade, and data usage.
The revised guidelines also prioritise the protection of vulnerable individuals and groups, including those who voice concerns about business conduct. Enterprises are now urged to conduct thorough due diligence on the impacts and business relationships associated with their products and services. Additionally, updated recommendations pertaining to the disclosure of responsible business conduct information have been incorporated.
Another noteworthy addition to the guidelines encompasses due diligence recommendations related to all forms of corruption. This expansion ensures that enterprises are diligent in addressing any corrupt practices within their operations. Furthermore, procedures have been strengthened to guarantee the visibility, effectiveness, and functional equivalence of National Contact Points on Responsible Business Conduct.
The process of updating the Guidelines was a collaborative effort involving 51 countries that adhere to them. These countries include both OECD members and non-members, representing a significant portion of global trade.
Throughout the process, the valuable input of various stakeholders was sought, including Business at OECD, the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD, and OECD Watch.
These stakeholders, collectively representing the interests of millions of businesses, workers, and civil society members worldwide, contributed their perspectives. Additionally, two public consultations were conducted, providing interested stakeholders from all nations with an opportunity to participate and provide their feedback.
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