EU and Global Value Chains: Implementing sustainable business through aid and trade – Impressions of the conference

8 December 2015

By Ad Ooms, Chair of the CONCORD Private Sector Task Force

private sector

In a fresh, new build, temporary, conference center the Dutch Government hosted a well-attended high level conference on the EU and sustainability in global value chains, in Amsterdam on 7 December 2015 in the run-up to the Netherlands’ Presidency of the Council of the EU, to explore which policy instruments can most effectively enhance sustainable value chains.

The conference gave a first look on the priorities and issues of the EU presidency by the Netherlands. In her opening speech minister Ploumen valued the role of civil society in helping to organize small farmers, producers and consumers in the chains and to act watchdogs. She also stressed that coherence between Aid and Trade policies is essential for achieving the Global Goals

Johannes Trimmel, CONCORD President, was part of the panel that opened the debate of the conference. He accompanied Guy Ryder, ILO, Stefan Crets, CSR Europe, Thomas Silberhorn, German Government, Bern Lange, European Parliament, Dagstir Khan, Federal Minister of Commerce Pakistan and last but not least Cecilia Malmström, Trade Commissioner of the European Commission.

Key words in the panel discussion were: responsible business conduct, multistakeholder dialogue, and smart regulations in trade agreements, strengthening democratization, strengthening local capacity, support local sustainability networks.

Johannes Trimmel stressed that global value chains is only one aspect of the problem to be tackled, the strengthening of local and regional value chains is maybe more important for poverty eradication and achievement of food security. Johannes Trimmel stressed that the EU should ensure that that the poor benefit from the global value chains. He especially asked attention for the position of women in global value chains – Commissioner Malström was the only women in the panel -. In his last remark at the panel discussion Johannes Trimmel made a plea for ownership of the next steps by partner countries of the EU to facilitate real inclusion of the people needed.

From various sides the need for the participation of an active civil society was underlined to make global value chains more sustainable.

So let’s remain active on this issue during the Dutch Presidency and beyond