Posted by Stuart Bell

Ergon Update November 2022

Welcome to Ergon’s regular newsletter covering our current and recent work in the business and human rights space.
Understanding and implementing grievance mechanisms

We have been doing a lot of work this year to support clients develop, strengthen and implement human rights grievance mechanisms and improve access to remedy for affected rightsholders. Some recent and ongoing examples include:

  • Support to FIFA in implementing their human rights grievance mechanism during the FIFA Men’s World Cup this year, including on the ground support during the tournament.
  • A global study for Rainforest Alliance (RA) to review the implementation of their standard on grievance mechanisms by member companies. This includes detailed case studies illustrating how RA Certificate Holders have taken steps to make their grievance handling more effective.
  • Support to a food business on strengthening their responses to human rights complaints.
  • Training and advice to Joint Committees in Qatar on grievance policies and effective grievance management. This was undertaken in collaboration with the ILO Project Office in Qatar and involved workshops with companies from multiple sectors, webinars, and tailored support.
  • A mapping study for a German sectoral initiative on how to implement business and human rights grievances in a Latin American country.

For more information on our work on grievance mechanisms, contact Steve Gibbons or Matthew Waller.

Training for World Bank, InterAmerican Development Bank and DFIs

We have been providing ongoing support to World Bank teams in relation to the implementation of the institution’s labour-related environmental and social standards (ESS). Most recently, this has involved training to specialists in Europe and Central Asia (ECA) and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) on the implementation of labour requirements in Bank projects. This engagement was led by Alastair Usher and Macduy Ngo.

We have also designed and delivered training for the partners of the InterAmerican Development Bank on labour issues in Guyana and Suriname. This project was led by Kirsten Newitt and Sam Kelly. We have also delivered a number of workshops for ESG specialists from several DFIs in recent months.

We continue to roll out an innovative blended online and in person programme on Social Risk Management for clients of British Investment International. The online programme is currently running and the first 2023 in person workshop will take place in January in Kenya.


Decent Work Country Program for Suriname 

In September, Ergon colleagues Sam Kelly and Marcella Klinker were in Paramaribo to start work on the next ILO Decent Work Country Program (DWCP) for Suriname. Ergon is supporting the ILO’s Office for the Caribbean and its tripartite constituents in Suriname to develop the country’s third DWCP, which will set strategic priorities for advancing the Decent Work Agenda and national development goals over the next four years. Sam and Marcella will return to Suriname in November to present a draft of the DWCP to national stakeholders. This project represents a return to the Caribbean for Ergon after our previous work to develop the DWCP for The Bahamas.

Supporting renewable energy and gender equality in Kazakhstan

Over the last two years, Ergon has been working with EY Kazakhstan to deliver the EBRD’s programme to support renewable energy and promote gender equality in Kazakhstan. The programme has focused on policy reform, TVET programmes, job-search services, industry networks, and company-level policies and practice to promote women’s economic participation in Kazakhstan’s renewable energy sector. The programme is due to complete by the end of this year. Sam Kelly, Jans Mynbayeva, and Kirsten Newitt have been leading this work.


ILO 8.7 Accelerator Lab

Following our support to the development of ILO’s 8.7 Accelerator Lab’s strategy in early 2022, we have been further commissioned to support the mapping of ILO projects and programmes related to forced labour and child labour. This will lead to the development of a dynamic online map that provides an overview of how ILO interventions are targeting SDG 8.7. This work is being led by Alastair Usher and Matthew Waller.

Human rights impact assessments 

Human rights impact assessments (HRIA) continue to be a useful tool relied upon by our clients from a range of different sectors. HRIAs are used not only to highlight salient social impacts, but also to help us develop recommended actions for our clients to prevent, mitigate and remediate those impacts – as well as generate more positive impacts through their operations.

In addition to our ongoing work conducting HRIAs for the energy sector, we have recently started several new supply chain HRIAs for our food retail and food manufacturing clients. These include HRIAs looking at shrimp from India, wine from South Africa and cocoa from four West African countries. We have also recently completed an HRIA on beans and pulses in Argentina. Our team is in the process of organising stakeholder and rightsholder engagement at international and national level, with field visits in-country to be conducted in the coming months. Contact Stuart BellCatherine Morgans or Brett Dodge for more information.


Guidance on managing labour risks and opportunities in the platform economy

Technology has had a profound impact on the world of work, generating considerable debate about the labour-related risks and opportunities associated with new developments. Digital labour platforms, which intermediate labour supply and demand, have been at the forefront of this debate in recent years.

Impact focused investors have been attracted to platform investments and they are increasingly common in emerging market investment portfolios. In emerging and developing economies, where many economic activities may be characterised by informality, digital labour platforms have significant potential to spur job creation at scale and for underserved groups, including women and young people. However, these development gains can come with significant risks, including lack of job and income security, uncertain legal status and protections, unsafe work, and a lack of worker voice.

In acknowledgement of these challenges, Ergon has worked with British International Investment (BII) and the Swiss Investment Fund for Emerging Markets (SIFEM) to develop guidance on managing the risks and optimising the opportunities associated with platform work in developing markets. The guidance, which is primarily targeted at investors, can be found hereMacduy Ngo can be contacted in the event of any inquiries.


New staff

After successfully completing internships with us, we are pleased to announce that Alice Berkeley and Jakob Kessel will be joining the Ergon team as Junior Researchers.

Alice recently completed her MSc in Gender, Development and Globalisation at the London School of Economics (LSE). Her areas of interest include human and labour rights in agricultural and garment supply chains, as well as gender equality, women’s economic empowerment and GBVH. Alice is also interested in the employment of refugees and migrant workers, and has worked with these groups in the UK and Greece.

Jakob was previously an intern with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and a research assistant at Institute of Development Studies (IDS). Jakob’s interest areas include labour and human rights in the context of development finance institutions (DFI) investments and national legislation. He also has a keen interest in the practical application of international labour standards. Jakob holds a MA in Globalisation, Business and Development from IDS at the University of Sussex. Jakob works in both English and his native German.