Seaports and the OECD - Guidelines


Companies are being confronted more and more with the societal issues they are connected to through their supply chains, often in other countries. This trend started mainly with the biggest companies, but is slowly trickling down towards medium sized and smaller companies. OECD is a collaboration between 46 countries and 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’. It 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.

Our approach

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. An important sub-question here was: what actions can we take
together, and what do we need to do alone?

The research mapped the current status of the activities actions that complied with the OECD guidelines. A gap analysis lead to an advice where more action needed to be taken. 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, but do facilitate its transportation. An important factor here is that these goods aren’t owned by the port but by the companies on the port terrain. Therefore, the port is rarely a direct contributor to the issues but is most often only linked to these issues indirectly. This issue is taken up in a follow-up initiative taken 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.

Areas of expertise