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FMO invests in local and international clients that operate in some of the poorest and most difficult countries in the world, often characterized by fragile governance structures with weak or inadequate legislation. Unfortunately, these settings can also introduce human rights challenges in addition to the human rights risks associated with their project activities.
Last Wednesday, FMO Environmental and Social Officer Patricia Nicolau shared the insights from FMO’s internal journey to integrate human rights due diligence in our investment process, at the United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights. Together with panelists Barbara Bijelic (OECD), Ryan Brightwell (BankTrack), Anita Ramasastry (UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights), Ruben Zandvliet (ABN Amro) and moderator Robert McCorquodale (professor Inclusive Law), she took a ‘deep dive’ on the issue of human rights due diligence in practice in the banking sector. The session highlighted the current state of play of how commercial banks are meeting the requirements set out in the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Patricia Nicolau: “At FMO, we are in the business of taking risk – we believe doing makes the difference – what is critical, is that we have the right tools, processes and systems to identify, mitigate and manage those risks. What is key is to learn from mistakes, continue learning and adapting. But we have a duty to encourage and support our client companies, so they move from seeing ‘risks to the business’ to seeing ‘risks to people’ and we all take responsibility for respecting human rights.”
This year, FMO has been putting its Sustainability Policy and Human Rights position statement into practice. We examined a wide variety of salient human rights issues pertinent to our portfolio and we embarked on a journey to strengthen our human rights due diligence throughout our entire investment process. To do this, we use the UN Guiding Principles as our compass and the IFC Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability as our operating tools. We have also started developing guidelines particular to human rights defenders.
|United Nations panel discussion Human Rights due diligence in practice in the banking sector|