On April 26, 2021, the Central Bank of Brazil (BCB) launched a new public consultation (No. 86/2021, the “Consultation”) on a proposed regulation for mandatory disclosure of social, environmental, and climate risks by financial institutions.

Climate-related risks must be disclosed in accordance with the TCFD Recommendations (“Recommendations”), including both

The “Find It, Fix It, Prevent It” initiative, which extends to some 56 large investors including M & G, Fidelity International, Schroeder’s and Edentree, seeks to increase the effectiveness of corporate action against modern slavery.

Initially, the “Find It, Fix It, Prevent It” initiative was focused on the hospitality sector, with investors seeking to engage with the largest UK-listed hospitality firms to encourage companies to develop better policies, processes and procedures for tackling modern slavery–and better disclosure. This year, “Find It, Fix It, Prevent It” will look to broaden its engagement with companies to include the construction and materials sector, with plans to commence engagement with targeted companies from the third quarter: the initiative’s activities and future focus are set out in its first annual report. The CCLA estimates that “the construction industry is estimated to contain 18% of the world’s victims of forced labor”. The term “modern slavery” extends to slavery, servitude, human trafficking and forced or compulsory labor (read more on the key indicators of modern slavery here).


Continue Reading Business and Human Rights: Investors Call Out “Modern Slavery” and Focus on Hospitality, Construction and Materials Sectors

This month, the American Bar Association (the “ABA“) published a Report on its suggested Model Contract Clauses to Protect Workers in International Supply Chains (the “MCCs“).

While the MCCs are not put forward as a binding standard, they do provide food for thought for companies who are seeking to align their supply chain contracts with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the “UNGPs“), and the increasing tide of mandatory human rights due diligence legislation (see more on this impending legislation here).

Key takeaways:

  1. The aim of the MCCs is to align drafting in international supply chain contracts with existing human rights due diligence standards and obligations, with a view to providing “operational guidance for mapping, identifying and addressing human rights risks at every tier of the supply chain” and seeking to help companies “implement healthy corporate policies in their supply chains in a way that is both legally effective and operationally likely.”
  2. In aligning supply chain contracts with existing obligations and requiring reasonable due diligence by both contract parties, the MCCs seek to address what could be considered an imbalance in the typical negotiation of supply chain contracts where, traditionally, a buyer has tended to shift all responsibility for human rights issues to the supplier.
  3. The publication of the MCCs pose some interesting considerations for buyers negotiating supply chain contracts. For example, to what extent is it reasonable for the supply chain contract to reflect the stance that abuses of workers’ rights occurring in global supply chains is a shared responsibility of both buyers and suppliers? The cooperative approach submitted is very different to the traditional oppositional relationship between buyer and supplier, where buyers seek to ensure that any and all responsibility for adherence to prescribed human rights standards falls to suppliers by requiring representations and warranties from suppliers on a “strict liability” basis.


Continue Reading Human Rights Due Diligence in Supply Chain Contracts: A Shared Responsibility of Buyer and Supplier?

Camellia plc and certain of its subsidiary companies have recently settled legal claims in the United Kingdom based on allegations against two businesses in Camellia plc’s African operations, namely Kakuzi in Kenya and EPM in Malawi. The claimants – supported by the Kenyan Human Rights Commission, the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and the Ndula Resources Centre – had alleged personal injuries suffered by local residents in Kenya allegedly carried out by security guards employed by Kakuzi in Kenya and sexual harassment and gender-based violence suffered by EPM’s female employees in Malawi. These claims have now been resolved at settlements costing up to £4.6m in relation to the Kenyan claims, and £2.3m in relation to the Malawian claims (see Camellia’s trading statement here).

The settlement highlights the role and importance of remedial community measures and Operational-level Grievance Mechanisms, as well as the increased exposure to litigation of parent companies for human rights related failures by their subsidiaries (for further examples, see our coverage here and here).


Continue Reading Business and Human Rights: Operational-level Grievance Mechanisms Form Part of Camellia plc’s Settlement of Claims in Connection with Operations in Kenya and Malawi

Offshore wind (OSW) project development in the United States continues its rapid pace. In addition to the significant “E” factors already present in such projects, several recent OSW solicitations undertaken and executive orders released during the COVID-19 pandemic have included specific “S” factors.

In our Legal Update, we provide further detail on OSW

With the advancing wave of mandatory human rights laws (see our previous Blog Posts here and here) and the increasing focus from investors and other stakeholders on human rights (see our previous Blog Post), it is ever more incumbent on companies to take demonstrable steps to identify, assess and mitigate actual or potential human rights harms.  This includes taking steps to ensure that no forced labor takes place within an organization or, increasingly, its supply chain.

Indeed, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include specific targets relating to forced labor.  In particular, the SDGs call for (i) the elimination of all forms of violence against all women and girls in public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation (SDG 5.2) and (ii) immediate and effective measures to eradicate inter alia forced labor (SDG 8.7).

But what indicators of forced labor should companies look out for?


Continue Reading Business and Human Rights: What Are The Key Indicators of Forced Labor?

In a speech on March 17, 2021, the CEO of the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Nikhil Rathi, highlighted how the financial services regulator is prioritizing diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives in the near term. Speaking at the launch of the HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter Annual Review, Mr. Rathi outlined why D&I is a key consideration for the FCA, noting that:

“We care because diversity reduces conduct risk and those firms that fail to reflect society run the risk of poorly serving diverse communities. And, at that point, diversity and inclusion become regulatory issues.”

Key steps the FCA is now taking on D&I include:

  • Working with the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) on a joint approach to D&I for all financial services firms; and
  • Considering whether to make diversity requirements a part of the FCA’s premium listing rules, similar to the approach taken by NASDAQ in the US.


Continue Reading UK Regulator to Prioritize Diversity and Inclusion for the Financial Services Industry

On March 11, 2021, the UK Government launched an online modern slavery statement registry. The announcement follows a commitment from the UK Government to strengthen the reporting requirements under section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 following its Transparency in Supply Chains Consultation.

The registry is intended to enhance transparency and accessibility

Eye on ESG is proud to celebrate International Women’s Day, a global celebration and platform to showcase women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements and to promote equity.

Today, Mayer Brown and many other organizations around the world are standing together and choosing to challenge—to acknowledge the proactive role that employers have to play in

With the surge of climate and stakeholder litigation all over the globe–comprising climate, supply chain and human rights issues–not only should governments be concerned, but mainly the private sector. It is not new that, in addition to creating stakeholder engagement and pushing forward public policies, ESG concerns pose significant reputational and financial risks, particularly to corporations. This is not only true for those companies dedicated to carbon-intensive activities or exposed to supply chain liabilities, but also to financial institutions enabling the development and expansion of such activities.

This is a particularly relevant matter in Brazil, which already relies on a well-established legal and case law framework capable of supporting sanctions and prosecution against corporations and financial institutions deemed liable in connection with environmental degradation.

In this Blog Post, we discuss the existing legal framework in Brazil with respect to environmental degradation, and how that framework might apply to the broader range of ESG issues, from climate to supply chain and human rights liability.


Continue Reading Climate and Stakeholder Litigation: Why Does It Matter to Companies Operating In Brazil?