Year-end recap & Outlook for 2024

Dear friends of the GCBHR,

Before the year comes to an end, we would like to quickly recap the key highlights from our past year and provide an outlook on our upcoming work.

  • Responsible supply chains

In January 2023, we published our second research report on cobalt sourcing from the DRC, together with NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights. Our advocacy to formalize artisanal mining continues: we submitted an article to the Business and Human Rights Journal, published this caselet in the Financial Times, and we maintain active discussions with potential partners and journalists.

  • Sustainable finance

We worked with financial institutions to highlight the role of human rights in the sustainable finance discourse. This fall, we ran a session at Building Bridges with the Thun Group of Banks. Our work on cobalt is being recognized as a potential stakeholder engagement topic.

  • Business education

In September, we released a case study that analyses a transformational business model for sourcing natural rubber developed by the French sneaker company Veja. In November, we brought together over 75 business school professors and deans in our Global Business School Network for Business and Human Rights at the University of Geneva to discuss how to advance human rights in business school education. The NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, the Global Business School Network, and the International Labour Organization (ILO) remain our closest partners for this work, but other schools are increasing their engagement. The network we have established over the last seven years now comprises over 120 business schools in more than 35 countries from all regions of the world.

We are excited about our work in the pipeline for 2024:

  • In January, we will publish a white paper in partnership with FarmStrong Foundation mapping the root causes for child labor in the cocoa industry in the Ivory Coast. We identify challenges to addressing child labor that persist despite commitments and investments from public and the private actors. The paper also lays out what experts consider critical for making progress.

  • In February, Dorothée Baumann-Pauly will travel to Botswana to assess the business model of HB Antwerp, a diamond company that has developed what looks like a transformational business model. In 2024, this case study will also become part of a book published by Routledge that Doro is co-authoring with two colleagues from the University of New South Wales, Justine Nolan and Andy Symington. The book will give all our case studies a solid frame.

  • Throughout the Spring semester, Dorothée Baumann-Pauly will teach two BHR classes at UNIGE and will invite a number of exciting guest speakers, including several from corporations.

  • In April, we will present findings of our third study for Luxembourg for Finance at their Annual Meeting. Financial institutions are starting to realize that, when evaluating investments, the “S” in ESG needs to improve to capture human rights for rights holders. For lending, a growing number of financial institutions start experimenting with sustainability-linked loans, an innovation we already documented in our ABN AMRO case study.

  • We will also work on teaching resources outlining human rights risks related to labor migration, which we started developing in the context of our MoU with the ILO.

On December 10 this year, we commemorated the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We hope that our practical and solutions-focused work supports companies in making principled business decisions, with human rights at the core.

We wish you a happy and peaceful holiday season!