The OECD Ministerial Meeting ended today with a joint statement. Since yesterday, representatives from over 60 countries, international organisations and stakeholders have been discussing the business community’s contribution to a resilient, sustainable and inclusive global economy.

In their joint statement, the participants emphasise the importance of a level playing field, compliance, transparency, resilience and sustainability in the global economy, and state their firm opposition to child labour and forced labour. They commit to working together towards these goals, to strengthening their efforts to make global markets more inclusive and sustainable, and to reducing inequalities. They argue for rules-based international trade that also takes account of the special circumstances of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and businesses from developing economies.

Further topics for discussion included the harmonisation of standards on responsible business conduct, sustainable finance and digitalisation. Particular attention was given to the importance of the National Contact Points for disseminating the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and out-of-court dispute settlement.

During the debate, Parliamentary State Secretary Franziska Brantner underlined that responsible business conduct is making a key contribution towards ensuring a successful transition to a sustainable and resilient economy, and that we cannot not lose sight of this responsibility, especially in times of crisis. Through sustainable economic activity, businesses make an important contribution to preventing future crises.

Franziska Brantner said, “Resilience and sustainability are two sides of the same coin. After all, only sustainable value chains remain strong and intact on a lasting basis. It is therefore crucial that businesses keep an eye on the impact of their activities on people, the environment and the climate. Many companies are already making good progress in this regard. Nevertheless, much still remains to be done – including in light of our sustainability and climate targets. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action wants to support our businesses in this area. On an international level, we are advocating for the advancement of responsible business conduct.”

The objective of responsible business conduct is to foster the positive contribution of businesses to economic and social progress worldwide, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and to minimise negative effects on people, society and the environment.

The OECD plays a key role in this. The Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, which were developed by the OECD, are the most important, most comprehensive international standards in the area of responsible business conduct. They include recommendations for business conduct with regard to respect for human rights, working conditions and the environment. In addition, National Contact Points have been set up in all 51 countries adhering to the Guidelines. These NCPs serve as out-of-court complaints offices for the OECD Guidelines.

Within the Federal Government, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action has the lead responsibility for the OECD Guidelines and the National Contact Point. You can find more information on the OECD Guidelines and the work of the National Contact Point here.