Human rights in tech supply chains webinars

Responsible business conduct has always been essential to techUK members and during lockdown we hosted a couple of webinars looking at the issue of business, human rights, and environmental due diligence.

The first webinar focused on a new EU initiative for mandatory due diligence legislation for human rights and the environment and the second focused on the latest trends in responsible sourcing – a vital issue for any user or manufacturer of electronics.

Key points from each webinar are below and full write ups are here and here, as well as below.

Mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence legislation webinar

  •         Expect consultation in late 2020 and a law introduced in 2021.
  •         The EU wants the legislation the be cross sectoral, contain meaningful sanctions for transgressions and apply to all businesses operating in Europe.
  •         The legislation will be much more searching and ask companies to go deeper into the supply chain than other laws.
  •         Civil society organisations are seeking to a ‘smart mix’ of regulation and voluntary measures.
  •         The EU is including ‘environmental due diligence’ too, though it is unclear what this means or how it inter-relates with existing environmental regulation.
  •         How this law will work alongside member state or third country legislation also needs clarification and we are seeing a proliferation of reporting and standards frameworks in business and human rights.
  •         There is interest in extending the legislation in to end-use and across the whole value chain, not just upstream manufacturing and raw material usage.
  •         Many UK companies would still like to operate in Europe, so should look at compliance regardless of Brexit.

Trends in Responsible Sourcing

  •         The EU Conflict Minerals Regulation is due to come into force in 2021 and we are expecting a Delegated Act in the EU around the methodologies for assessed and accredited.
  •         Expect a list of Conflict and High Risk Affected Areas late 2020 or early 2021. The ReMIS system should be ready later this year too.
  •         There are unanswered questions around how this legislation will interact with the forthcoming EU mandatory due diligence law.
  •         We are seeing more scrutiny and interest in a wide range of materials and firms are doing more to understand and take action in their mineral supply chains.
  •         Covid has had negative impacts on the ability to carry out due diligence, as well as cause harm in sourcing countries. Distance audits are currently being developed.
  •         Industry initiatives such as the EPRM, RMI and LBMA have been rolling out projects, working more to increase capacity on supply chain risks and creating resources for members.

This is a growing area for the sector and anyone  interested in our work on business and human rights should email Susanne.baker@techuk.org or craig.melson@techUK.org.

  • Craig Melson

    Craig Melson

    Head of Digital Devices, Consumer Electronics and Environment and Sustainability
    T 020 7331 2172
Human and Environmental Due Diligence webinar - meeting... (pdf)Next steps for responsible sourcing (pdf)

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