CIDSE AND ITS MEMBERS ISSUE A POLICY BRIEF TO PUT FORTH PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS TO IMPROVE THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION’S CORPORATE SUSTAINABILITY DUE DILIGENCE (CSDD) PROPOSAL
Three years after the disaster that stole the lives of at least 272 people in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, Brazil, CIDSE and the Commission of Bishops’ Conferences at the European Union hosted a caravan from Latin America, including survivors of that tragedy. Despite the unprecedented violence and trauma that it unleashed on the local communities’ present and future generations, the company that was mainly responsible for the disaster, VALE, has mostly been allowed to escape its responsibilities. Yet, responsibility for the tragedy is shared internationally, as the German auditing company which certified the dam operated by VALE to be safe, TÜV SÜD, is currently being sued in Germany by victims.
On 15 January 2022, Peru experienced one of the most significant environmental disasters in its history. During a transport operation, about 1.65 million tons of crude oil were spilled into national waters along the coast of La Ventanilla (Callao region), located 30 km north of Lima and famous for its marine biodiversity hosted by two protected reserves. The oil was destined to a refinery owned by Spanish company Repsol and was being transported by Italian tanker Mare Doricum. It is unclear what the long-term effects of the spills will be, but local fisherfolk and communities are already enduring a loss of livelihoods and the destruction of their environment.
The negative impacts of corporate activities are a reality for people and communities around the world. EU companies, inserted in global value chains of production and extraction, bear significant responsibilities for such abuses.
For years, CIDSE, its members and allies have been advocating for the introduction of mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence (mHREDD) legislation in the European Union that also facilitates access to justice for those affected by corporate abuses. In 2020, more than 230 Catholic Bishops joined civil society groups and citizens in asking for mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence legislation.
The European Commission (EC)’s Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence (CSDD) proposal represents an important step towards meaningful legislative actions to address the threat of corporate activities to human rights and the planet. However, it will fail to trigger transformative and significant changes if major shortcomings of the text are not addressed.
Together with its members, CIDSE calls on the European Parliament and Member States to substantially improve the text so as to get the European economy on track to true sustainability and set a global example.
The CSDD could be a game-changer, or it could be yet another opportunity for companies to turn sustainability and social impact into marketing tools, only paying lip service to the demands of indigenous people, experts, activists and non-governmental organisations. It is down to the co-legislators now to live up to their expectations.
CIDSE Factsheet on the European Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence (CSDD) Directive proposal (May 2022)
This position paper is available in English. Italian and Spanish versions will be available shortly.