Integrating Human Rights and the Environment in Supply Chain Regulations

Almut Schilling-Vacaflor
DOI number
#Environment and climate change
#EU / Western Europe
#Social and working conditions
#Latin America

To address the negative externalities associated with global trade, countries in the Global North have increasingly adopted supply chain regulations. While global supply chains cause or contribute to interconnected environmental and human rights impacts, I show that supply chain regulations often exclusively target one policy domain. Furthermore, an analysis of the first experiences with the implementation of the French Duty of Vigilance law, which covers and gives equal weight to environmental and human rights risks, reveals that the inclusion of environmental and human rights standards in legal norms is not sufficient to ensure policy integration. The empirical focus here is on the soy and beef supply chains from Brazil to the European Union (EU), and the findings rely on an analysis of legal norms and company reports, field research at producing sites in Brazil and semi-structured interviews with civil society, business and state actors. For analyzing the data, I draw on the literature on environmental policy integration (EPI) and apply a framework that distinguishes between institutional, political and cognitive factors to discuss advances and challenges for integrating human rights and the environment in sustainability governance. The study concludes that more integrated approaches for regulating global supply chains would be needed to enable ‘just sustainability’.

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