VAUDE calls for Strong EU Supply Chain Law
• Crucial vote in the EU Parliament approaching
• VAUDE calls upon EU politicians to not allow dilution
• EU law as a game-changer for global supply chains
VAUDE welcomes the planned mandatory due diligence for companies in the European Union. "We are committed to ambitious, fast-acting and binding standards for greater sustainability at the EU level for as many companies as possible," says Antje von Dewitz, Managing Director of VAUDE. On June 1, 2023, the EU parliament is scheduled to adopt the EU Supply Chain Act, known as the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDD). "This is an important decision that is very close to my heart. The EU Supply Chain Act can become a true game changer because it now takes ecological factors into account and aims to hold more companies accountable than current German law. I see a great opportunity, above all, for more players to take joint action and drive genuine improvements in supply chains," says Antje von Dewitz. Therefore, VAUDE appeals to EU Members of Parliament to vote in favor of the draft law and not to allow it to become diluted.
VAUDE has been publicly advocating for supply chain legislation for years – and promoting the assumption of responsibility in global supply chains. The lack of statutory provisions for social and ecological minimum standards not only supports the exploitation of people and nature; it also creates competitive disadvantages for companies like VAUDE that have voluntarily been advocating for fair and environmentally friendly production conditions worldwide for years.
"For us, it goes without saying that companies are fully responsible for the impact of their economic activities," explains Antje von Dewitz. Therefore, VAUDE is investing in the development and manufacturing of environmentally friendly products, by using resource-efficient materials, providing environmental management training in the supply chain, calculating its climate balance, and using environmentally-friendly energy, for example. The outdoor brand voluntarily goes far beyond the legal requirements. "However, this also means that our commitment entails higher costs and disadvantages compared to the competition. Stricter legal requirements as well as effective governmental incentives for corporate climate and environmental protection can ensure greater equity," explains Antje von Dewitz.
Despite the higher costs, VAUDE has long been consistently committed to higher social and environmental standards in the supply chain. "We are showing that it is possible to assume responsibility and be economically successful at the same time," says Antje von Dewitz.
Working together to bring about change
By establishing binding standards for all companies, supply chain laws offer significant opportunities, above all, to jointly address global challenges such as climate change, resource consumption, and more, and to find sustainable solutions. "If we all pull together, we can achieve a great deal – and share the costs, effort and risks. We have long been involved in various committees together with other brands and have seen that this is an effective way to advance solutions and innovations that ultimately benefit the companies themselves!" reports Antje von Dewitz. For example, VAUDE has been working with nine other outdoor brands since 2021 in the Supply Chain Decarbonisation Project (SCDP) of the European Outdoor Group (EOG) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the supply chain and increase the use of renewable energy. In the Environmental Stewardship pilot project, VAUDE has provided environmental management training to a range of material suppliers in environmental management, resulting in significant energy savings in production.
Civil liability strengthens implementation
The EU Supply Chain Act provides for regulatory control, including fines and civil liability. This means that companies must be held liable if they fail to fulfill their due diligence obligations, resulting in human rights violations or environment harm. VAUDE advocates for civil liability, not to punish companies, but to strategically establish corporate responsibility at the highest level. "In this way, we create the conditions for embedding sustainability at the highest level in companies and making it a core business competence," emphasizes Antje von Dewitz.
Impact is more important than company size
VAUDE supports the scope outlined in the EU Commission's draft which requires that beginning in 2026, large companies (at least 500 employees and a minimum turnover of 150 million euros) to comply and beginning in 2028, companies from at-risk industries with at least 250 employees and minimum turnover of 40 million euros. Whereby, from VAUDE's perspective, the risk potential of a company would be the more meaningful parameter than its size: Even very small companies can have significant impacts on vulnerable groups or sensitive natural areas such as wetlands.
Climate protection is a duty of care
The EU Commission stipulates that companies must align their business models and corporate strategies with limiting global warming to 1.5 °C in accordance with the Paris Climate Agreement. VAUDE expressly welcomes this and further demands that companies in high-risk sectors, regardless of their size, integrate science-based climate targets into their strategies. In addition to climate protection, it also calls for the inclusion of biodiversity and drinking water protection as corporate due diligence responsibilities.
Joining forces for a strong Europe
"At VAUDE, we would like to see all forces in Europe pooling resources and adopting an effective EU Supply Chain Act. We call on industry associations from all sectors to contribute proactively, constructively and creatively to this effort. Our common goal must be for European companies to measurably contribute to upholding human rights and protecting our natural resources. This is an important contribution to the future viability and competitiveness of the European economy," appeals Antje von Dewitz.
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