Grievance Mechanisms in the Dutch Hard Coal Supply Chain

Following the finalization of the Dutch Coal Dialogue in the summer 2013, the participating Dutch utilities, E.ON, Essent, GDF Suez, Nuon and EPZ, published a vision document on transparency and corporate responsibility in the hard coal supply chain. This document committed them to develop a plan on the establishment for a pilot grievance mechanism in the hard coal supply chain supplying hard coal to the Dutch market for energy generation. The grievance mechanism should be in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles of Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), and meet the standards of due diligence established in the UNGP framework.

In early 2014, the Dutch utilities commissioned BSR to lead a research project to assess the usefulness and relevance of existing grievance mechanisms as well as their alignment with the UNGPs with a view to determine how the Dutch utilities can provide effective access to remedies for stakeholders. Thus, in response to the commitment made as an outcome of the Dutch Coal Dialogue, the utilities set out to understand whether existing mechanisms could be applied to the scope of the Dutch hard coal supply chain, and if so, what changes would possibly be required. In the event that no such suitable mechanism existed, the utilities wanted to understand what a new mechanism should look like.

This report provides a detailed assessment of three existing grievance mechanisms – the Dutch OECD National Contact Point (NCP), the FMO Independent Complaints Mechanism (ICM), and the IFC’s Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO). The assessment uses the UNGP “Effectiveness Criteria” as the analytical framework to assess whether each mechanism complies with human rights standards. The assessment is based on two distinct inputs: BSR’s analysis of each mechanism, and stakeholder consultation on each mechanism. The findings and recommendations are based on a composite assessment from both of these inputs.

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