Responsible supply chains

Opening address at the project launch and stakeholders engagement of the Responsible Supply Chains in Asia Project in the Philippines

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the project launch and stakeholders engagement of the Responsible Supply Chains in Asia Project in the Philippines, Manila, Philippines, 20 November 2018

Statement | Manila, Philippines | 20 November 2018
  • Honourable Secretary Bello represented by Undersecretary Lagunzad, together with Assistant Secretary Avila and DOLE officials;
  • His Excellency EU Ambassador Jessen represented by EU Trade Section Head, Mr Cellini
  • Distinguished officials from the government, workers and employers, development partners, international and non-government organizations; corporate foundations; media and partners;
  • Colleagues from the ILO, including my colleague Mr Guacayan Benitez from Bangkok;
  • Distinguished guests,
  • Ladies and gentlemen, good morning!
Thank you your presence and support as we launch a joint initiative on “Responsible Supply Chains in Asia”.

The ILO is grateful to the European Union for funding this new project under its Partnership Initiative, which will be implemented with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

This new initiative supports the ILO’s programme action on Decent Work in Global Supply Chains, and the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the EU’s commitment to promote human rights, decent work, international labour standards and sustainable development.

Next year, the ILO will mark its Centenary or 100th anniversary. The ILO Centenary will highlight the need to advance social justice and to promote decent work, which is very much linked to this new initiative.

The global supply chains contribute significantly to economic growth, job creation, entrepreneurship and poverty reduction. It also supports adoption of new production technologies to help develop skills, as well as boost productivity and competitiveness of the Philippines, and more broadly of ASEAN countries.

We are, however, equally aware of challenges on production, and issues related to labour rights, environment and human rights. International trade and investment will drive employment but compliance with labour standards, human rights and environmental guidelines is vital.

Along the supply chain, businesses may buy raw goods and materials without knowing that those were made under unfair and unsafe working conditions. The clothes and shoes that people wear, the mobile phones they use, or even the chocolates or food they eat could have been made by a child, or by people under poor, abusive and dangerous working conditions.

This is what the Sustainable Development Goals is all about – to leave no one behind. It will be a challenge to achieve decent work and economic growth when people work for long hours yet earn less two dollars a day. When they work hard for their families to put food on the table and to provide a better future, but lack access to social protection, and occupational safety and health. When they do not have a voice and their rights at work are undermined, including freedom of association and collective bargaining.

As an example, agriculture is a sector where most cases of forced labour and child labour are found. In the Philippines, more than half of the 2.1 million child labourers are in agriculture.

These are complex issues, which require joint efforts and networks to implement sustainable solutions at the level of macro policies and enterprises. There should be solid awareness of responsible business practices for greater compliance, competitiveness and access to new markets.

At the macro policy, promotion of responsible business conduct must be among the priorities of the government. This action will support countries to act and to have an impact on social, environmental and human rights issues in relation to enterprises.

A relevant public policy will affect framework by which businesses, whether big or small, design their CSR programmes. This should take into account social, environmental and human rights impact of operations.

At the level of the enterprises, businesses should be engaged in dialogues to promote policy coherence, collaboration and transparency in governance of enterprises and supply chains.

This should lead to concrete action and transformation of international responsible business conduct principles into tangible policies and practices.

It should also stimulate dialogues among governments, employers, workers, and stakeholders to promote decent work and to multi-stakeholder partnerships for maximum impact of initiatives towards better adherence to international principles.

The EU, the ILO and the OECD join forces to promote responsible supply chains by increasing awareness and strengthening the capacity of businesses and the government on corporate social responsibility and socially responsible business practices.

The project will help advance sustainable and inclusive growth by encouraging businesses to adopt policies and practices in the areas of human and labour rights and environmental protection standards in line with international instruments.

These include the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises (MNE) and Social Policy, the United Nations Guiding Principles on business and human rights, and the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises.

Principles in the MNE declaration provide guidelines for enhanced positive social and labour effects on enterprises towards responsible supply chains and decent work.

Apart from this, the advocacy for responsible business conduct based on international CSR standards will support sustainability of enterprises, including decisions and operations that affect people, planet and prosperity for both present and future generations.

The project has big objectives but limited resources, though we maintain high hopes to forge partnerships, and to expand its reach.

We look forward to your strong and continued support. It is by working together that we can achieve sustainable and inclusive growth through decent work and responsible supply chains.

Thank you!