BKW became a member of the United Nations Global Compact in February 2021, underlining the company’s willingness to boost its commitment to sustainable conduct in all its business activities. For BKW, implementing the requirements that arise from this involves further developing the Group’s corporate responsibility. And while the Responsible Business Initiative was rejected, the Swiss Federal Council’s counterproposal shows that it has similar expectations of the corporate world. Finally, the international standards of the OECD’s “Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises” have considerable overlap with the requirements of the UN Global Compact.
In January 2020, the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) lodged a complaint against BKW with the Swiss National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (NCP). In its complaint, the STP claimed that BKW’s corporate responsibility guidelines were inadequate and unequal to the likes of the OECD guidelines. The NCP’s remedy in such cases is a confidential dialogue under its moderation. The goal of the dialogue is a forward-looking solution to the complaint and, ideally, joint conclusions between the two parties. BKW and the STP entered into dialogue in later summer of 2020.
Constructive dialogue with mutual findings
BKW used the dialogue as an opportunity to bring the perspective of an NGO working in the field of human rights into the further development of its corporate responsibility guidelines. The dialogue proved constructive, resulting in joint conclusions between BKW and the STP. These essentially encompassed the following four points:
- BKW will adopt a commitment to observe human rights into its Code of Conduct, in particular the principle of “free, prior and informed consent” (FPIC) with respect to vulnerable groups.
- BKW will intensify its stakeholder and due diligence processes in acquisitions to ensure that the rights of indigenous people are observed.
- BKW will ensure that contractual partners focus on the observance of human rights in power plant projects, and will include an option to exit projects as a last resort.
- BKW will introduce a complaints procedure in relevant projects.The joint conclusions are compatible with the provisions of corporate responsibility under the UN Global Compact and the OECD’s guidelines. The NCP officially communicated this agreement with a “Final Statement”. This brings the dialogue to a close.