Belgium – UK economic mission: Bringing business in line with human and climate targets

Belgium – UK economic mission: Bringing business in line with human and climate targets
The first Belgian economic mission since the corona pandemic goes to the United Kingdom. Princess Astrid (in red) chairs the mission until 12 May, in representation of the King. To her right is energy minister Tinne Van der Straeten. Photo from Belgian Royal Palace.

Belgium and the United Kingdom have stated that they intend to put human rights high on the agenda in an announcement made at a joint seminar in London as part of the Belgian economic mission to the UK.

“The UN Guiding Principles (UNGPs) on Business and Human Rights are universally recognised as the framework for preventing, addressing and remediating business-related human rights abuses,” said energy minister Tinne Van der Straeten.

“Belgium supports an ambitious implementation of the UNGPs at all levels and by all actors. We are convinced that this is a prerequisite for building back better, for a green transformation of our economies for sustainable development, because respect for the planet and its people go hand in hand.”

Putting people before profit

The Belgian Federal Government adopted a National Action Plan to implement the UNGPs, drawing on expertise from various governmental departments as well as stakeholders.

Thirty-three concrete actions were put forward, including one to make companies and other stakeholders aware of the subject of "companies and human rights" in the context of Belgian economic missions abroad such as the one currently being led by Princess Astrid.

The UK also adopted its own national action plan for the implementation of the UNGP.

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“The topic of human rights in business is also receiving increasing attention on the European and international stage,” the two governments acknowledged in a statement.

“Important challenges remain to ensure better protection of human rights... especially for the most marginalised and vulnerable groups.”

With the London seminar, both Belgium and the UK are seeking to encourage their business leaders and policymakers – many of whom were in attendance – to implement the UNGPs properly and keep the issue high on the international agenda.

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