IZA took part in the signing ceremony of the International Responsible Business Conduct (IRBC) Agreement for the metal sector, in The Hague, Netherlands on Thursday 23rd May. This ceremony hosted by UNICEF Netherlands, launches a multi-stakeholder partnership towards responsible metals supply chains. ( click here to access SER press release and here for the website)

Stakeholders from the Dutch metals sector[1], such as companies, industry associations, the Dutch government, NGO’s and civil society organizations came together to discuss about responsible metal supply chains within the Netherlands and on an international level as well.

The IRBC agreement is the result of a two years constructive dialogue conducted by the Social Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER). By joining forces, the metal sector commits to promote the International Responsible Business Conduct. The agreement focuses on the long-term social and environmental effects of sourcing raw materials and services in the metals sector. The IRBC agreement facilitates the implementation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, which provides detailed recommendations to help companies respect human rights and avoid contributing to conflict through their mineral purchasing decisions and practices. Complying with these guidelines helps achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The IRBC agreement reflects the ambition and the strong willingness of the stakeholders to make a difference in their sector. Moreover, they also recognize the mutual benefits of such a partnership. From an industry perspective, Steef Steeneken, board member of VNMI, Association of the Dutch Metallurgical Industry spots the fact that: “It was the metals industry that took the initiative. By working together with NGO’s, we went out of our comfort zone, it shows that we mean it and we want to make it better!”. Pauline Neefjes, Senior Program Advisor at UNICEF Nederland confirms: “as a Civil Society Organisation, we believe that working together will allow us to add our expertise, international network and leverage, to materialise improvements in the supply chain”.

By joining this initiative as a Supporting Organisation, IZA demonstrates its own commitment to the principles of Responsible Sourcing which are reflected in the IZA Sustainability Charter and its Guiding Principles. IZA acts as an ambassador to raise awareness among its member companies and customers and supports their efforts to ensure responsible sourcing not only in the Dutch metals industry. The Netherlands have a strong zinc industry with Nyrstar as zinc metal producer, Nedzink as zinc sheet producer and a vivid general galvanizing and recycling industry. The Netherlands also have a meaningful steel industry. The global steel industry uses 60 % of the annual global zinc production to protect steel from corrosion. By galvanizing steel, the lifetime of steel structures is multiplied, which contributes to saving valuable resources and reducing CO2 emissions.

IZA is the link to the global zinc industry for answering questions, providing relevant information and bringing the right people and companies together to jointly find solutions if needed.

[1] The following organisations are parties to the metals sector agreement: Century Aluminum Vlissingen, Climax Molybedenum, trade union federation CNV, E-MAX Aluminium Profielen, Eurometaux, trade union federation FNV, Global March against Child Labour, Hunter Douglas Europe, IUCN Nederland, the Dutch Minister for International Trade and Development Cooperation, the Dutch State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, Tata Steel Netherlands, UNICEF Netherlands, Uzimet, the Dutch Metallurgy Association VNMI and Wupperman Staal Netherlands. They will have the support of Bettercoal, FME, International Tin Association, International Zinc Association, Metaal Recycling Federatie, and Terre des Hommes.

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