Companies are more and more confronted with the societal issues they are connected to through their supply chains, often in other countries. Mainly the bigger players on the market have started this trend. However, it is slowly trickling down towards medium sized and smaller companies. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is a collaboration between 46 countries. It has created guidelines about how companies should cope with these (potential) issues: The OECD guidelines. These guidelines are not (yet) legislation, but are currently known as ‘soft-law’. Overall, the guidelines can be expected to be an important source of inspiration for national legislation. Examples of this are the ‘Modern Slavery Act’ in the United Kingdom. Another example is the upcoming ‘Wet zorgplicht kinderarbeid’ in the Netherlands.
Commissioned by the five biggest sea ports of the Netherlands, TheRockGroup executed a research project with the main question: what do the Dutch Seaport companies need to do to comply to the OECD guidelines. Additionally, an important sub-question here was: what actions can we take together, and what do we need to do alone?
Firstly, the research mapped the current status of the actions that complied with the OECD guidelines. Secondly, based on an extensive gap analysis, we gave advice on where more action was needed. The research focused on the supply chain responsibility of the ports. The ports have limited action perspective on the goods that are transported through the port. Yet, ultimately they are the ones facilitating its transportation. An important factor here is that these goods aren’t owned by the port. They are owned by the companies on the port terrain. Therefore, the port is rarely a direct contributor to the issues and mostly indirectly linked only. This issue was taken up in a follow-up initiative by the ports to further substantiate how ports can take a proactive role to improve the sustainability in the value chains they are connected to.
With this award the IAPH acknowledged joint efforts to examine how to manage International CSR risks in our supply chains such as Palm and E-waste.
Also, this award shows Dutch companies as being frontrunners in terms of sustainability. Risks in the supply chain is not an easy subject for Ports: The control on goods through the ports is minimal to zero. The ports of Groningen, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, North Sea Port and the Port of Moerdijk showed courage to tackle this problem. By collaborating we found solutions! Proud to have contributed to it!