G20 Labor and Employment Ministers take important step towards promoting sustainable global supply chains

Last week, the G20 Labor and Employment Ministers issued the 2017 LEMM Declaration—the final product of six months of multilateral engagement and discussion on key issues relating to the promotion of productive and decent work at the global level.

ICAR has been deeply involved in the 2017 G20 process; both serving as the international co-chair of the Civil-20 Responsible Investment Working Group, and organizer of the G7/G20 Business and Human Rights (BHR) Task Force.

ICAR welcomes the LEMM Declaration, which contained a number of important commitments in relation to sustainable global supply chains. In particular, the G20 Labor Ministers:  

  • Reaffirm their commitment to international guidelines and frameworks, such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, ILO MNE Declaration, and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.  
  • Commit to taking “immediate and effective measures,” both domestically and abroad, towards eradicating modern slavery, forced labor, and human trafficking in global supply chains.  
  • Support the attainment of decent work and the strengthening of compliance with fundamental labor principles in global supply chains, through the development of national action plans to achieve decent work, for responsible business conduct and compliance with domestic labor law; the inclusion of fundamental principles and rights at work and decent working conditions in trade agreements; and the involvement of stakeholders in initiatives designed to foster sustainable global supply chains
  • Recognize and emphasize that “wages should take into account the needs of workers and their families, the cost of living and economic factors” and support minimum wage legislation and collective bargaining to help set income floors which reduce income inequality, eliminate poverty wages and achieve sustainable wage growth.
  • Commit to promoting due diligence and transparency in global supply chains by communicating clearly their expectations of businesses and welcoming initiatives to facilitate industry-wide due diligence and harmonize audit standards.
  • Encourage the establishment of non-judicial grievance mechanisms, the development of national focal points to promote the use of the ILO MNE Declaration, and strengthen the OECD National Contact Points.

While the 2017 LEMM Declaration represents an important step for the G20 in addressing key labor and employment concerns stemming from the challenge of globalization, ICAR believes that the G20 Labor and Employment Ministers missed an important opportunity to deliver commitments that will create a necessary paradigm shift towards responsible and sustainable supply chains. ICAR is disappointed by the failure of the LEMM Declaration to encourage G20 countries to commit to requiring due diligence throughout supply chains, ensure that the right to a living wage is realized, and push non-OECD countries to adhere to the Guidelines.

In order to establish a rights-based global economy which help further global social and economic development, G20 countries must follow through with these initial commitments, and commit to strengthening them in future.

At the C20 Summit in June, ICAR will facilitate a workshop on Fostering Sustainable Supply Chains and Responsible Business Conduct: G2017 and Beyond. This event will bring together business representatives and associations, government officials, labor union representatives, and members of civil society to discuss the role of the G20 in promoting sustainable supply chains, evaluate the 2017 LEMM commitments, and identify leadership opportunities across engagement groups during the 2018 G20 Argentine presidency.

For more information regarding ICAR’s G20 work, please contact Cindy Woods, Legal and Policy Associate, cindy@icar.ngo