2030 Agenda (SDG)
The agreement on the Agenda 2030 by the international community in 2015 is a comprehensive orientation framework for a worldwide sustainable development. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are therefore regarded as a central part of an implementation process. One of the goals to achieve by 2030 is the complete eradication of global poverty. However, the SDG are more far-reaching: They are connecting social, economic and ecologic targets, which are applied to both poor and rich countries. Moreover, common but differentiated responsibilities are underlined and questions of inequality, production- and consumption patterns are discussed. SÜDWIND is particularly focusing on the question, how the role of private sectors can be assessed concerning the implementation of the SDG.
Global Employment Laws
Wages on the poverty level, lack of free unionization, child labour and further more are part of an extensive list of global violation of employment laws. People and organisations trying to improve working conditions of global value chains are commonly referring to international employment laws and the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Core Labor Standards defined by the ILO hold as human rights. In the run-up to ILO’s 100th anniversary in 2019 SÜDWIND is analyzing ILO’s Core Labor Standards with respect to their relevance, successes, and deficits. On doing so, emphases are placed on of free unionization, informal labor conditions, seasonal work, as well as living wages. Those topics are currently challenging the global working environment, the engagement of civil societies, and the ILO exceedingly. They should now be used to analyse to which extent the ILO with its Core Labor Standards, its approaches and decision mechanisms is leading towards a solution of the problems.
Working Conditions in the Textile Manufacturing Chain
Serious labour law violations in the global textile- and clothing industry with mostly female employees are daily fare. A great number of the employees are working under informal conditions. Their work is not socially protected and poverty is commonly present. More than half of the informally employed workers are women. Important leverage points in the last decades in order to reduce working and social standards have been the proliferation of “Free Trade Zones”, the growing employment of migrants, as well as the liberalization of the global textile trade. On all steps of the textile value chain – from the cultivation of cotton, to its spinning and weaving, the processing of the textiles and their packaging – informal labour conditions are present and common. SÜDWIND examines those working conditions and the once of formally employed workers in alliance with partner organisations from the producer countries.
Bananas are the main export fruits in the world. More than a quarter of the total production is used for exports all over the world, where it is often offered at low prices. Bananas have been an important source of income for hundred thousands of families in many developing countries. The living conditions of banana producers are shaped by low export prices, poor working conditions, ecological consequences, competition on the market and concentration of power towards the end of the supply chain.
SÜDWIND has worked on the consequences of banana trade on smallholders and plantation workers for years. The introduction of fair trade was an improvement for the living conditions and social standards of some workers, but the overall situation is still bad: most of the plantation workers in Central and South America live under poor conditions. An upgrade of the supply chain in favour of the workers can be achieved if living wages are paid and social and ecological minimum standards are recognized.
SÜDWIND participates in the Action Alliance for Sustainable Bananas (ABNB) in Germany in order to make an impact along the banana supply chain.
Cotton is one of the most important resources in the textile chain. Before it can be spun to yarn cotton has to go through several production steps: The seed for the cotton plant needs to be extracted, the fruits picked and, to receive cotton fibres in the end, the raw cotton needs to be ginned. Most of the production steps take place in the global south, where large parts of the cotton grow. Low wages, long working hours and no employment contracts are typical conditions for cotton production. Living and working conditions for millions of workers involved on different stages of cotton production worldwide, as well as ways to enforce employment rights, are the centre of attention for the efforts of SÜDWIND. The collaboration with the Indian partner organisation “PRAYAS – Center for Labour Research and Action” is essential for the work.
Sustainable investment usually means to invest in listed securities. The companies often are multinational companies with ecological and social flaws. Those flaws can be addressed in critical dialogs with the companies in order to push for solutions. SÜDWIND works with sustainable investors, e.g. in the textile production or resource extraction.
Development and Climate Finance
Since the international climate negotiations have achieved the agreement, that industrialized nations should provide 100 billion US-dollars on a yearly base until 2020, the international Climate Finance has increased significantly. Nevertheless, old commitments concerning the support of countries from the global south in fighting poverty did not become obsolete. Moreover, development and climate protection goals can often be combined very well. However, one should observe carefully, how Development and Climate Finance are calculated; if and how both goals are interconnected efficiently; and which role the private sector could be accounted to in order to be useful. These are the central points of SÜDWIND.
EU Development Cooperation
Agenda 2030 encompassing the Sustainable Development Goals, which the international community agreed upon in 2015, are also perceived as a new challenge for the EU development cooperation. The European Union and its member states are called upon to find new answers on how to handle fundamental issues like poverty eradication, migration, human rights or mitigation and adaption to climate change. With the help of analyzes, studies and action-oriented research SÜDWIND is dealing with these and other questions of the EU’s development policy.
An evaluation of direct and indirect impacts of numerous projects and programs of German and international development cooperation is of particular importance. The institute SÜDWIND evaluates tools and projects of German and international alliances and, moreover, works as a surveyor and consultant for non-governmental organizations that uses internationally accepted evaluation principles and techniques.
Department of Global Economy and Human Rights
The globalized economy and its (de-)regulation systems are influencing the living conditions of people worldwide. Human rights violations can be revealed in different locations along global value chains, for instance at existence-disrupting raw material extraction or at harmful production conditions.
Within the framework of the one-world promoter program of the federal state North Rhine-Westphalia the department of global society and human rights was set up. The department’s mission is to show up structures of the global economy that are currently violating human rights and consequently to provide potential solutions to those nuisances. This mission is going to be accomplished via educational activity and the teaching of multipliers, as well as networking and the development and publication of action-proposals.
Globalization and Governance
Along with development of international linkages of production processes and the liberalization of goods and financial markets substantial imbalances and problems occur on a global scale: The social inequality between and within countries grew, the use of resources increased and pollution together with climate change worsened while democracy was weakened. Frequently national and international politics are not meeting the request to regulate and control appropriately. Within international organizations power relations are often undemocratic and they happen to be not reflecting current political and economic conditions. Especially, the poorest developing countries are not represented in several committees and bodies. SÜDWIND has been consistently engaged in studying power relations within large committees and bodies in the last years. As a consequence several reform proposals have been made.
Greens Bonds are a certain form of bonds, meaning fixed-interest securities handed out by states, enterprises or federal states. The revenue from Green Bonds is solely used for the financing of ecological projects. However, what is the exact meaning, how is it verified, and do Green Bonds really contribute to the provision of more capital for green projects?
The human-induced climate change and the continuing scarcity of natural resources have demonstrated the boundaries of the contemporary carbon-dioxide dependent economy. As a potential solution approach politics and science are proposing the Green Economy. Such a de-carbonation of the economy should support future economic activity that should minimize environmental risks and moreover consider the resource scarcity. In the initial concept of the United Nations a new ecological economy serves for the superior goal of human-wellbeing and social justice. This is the point that SÜDWIND is considering, such that Green Economy really leads to benefits for all.
Cocoa is produced by globally more than 5 million families on mostly small plantations. 70% of the world cocoa harvest is produced in West Africa. Adjusted for inflation, the cocoa price has decreased over the last accompanied by significant fluctuations, which is one reason why a large part of the farmers is living in poverty. The combination of low incomes and the resulting poor economic situation are the main reason of child labor, which is common and widespread in cocoa production. SÜDWIND is concerned with the question of how to improve this situation since 2009. In order to find solutions, studies are published and conferences are organized. Besides that SÜDWIND is represented in several confederations and stakeholder panels.
Rubber is an important resource, especially for the production of tires and cars. Only little is known about the ecological and social consequences of rubber cultivation, even though the industrial rubber plantations and palm oil plantations contribute largely to the deforestation of rain forests. Moreover, working conditions on the industrial plantations are often poor, and human rights violations are a common issue. At the same time, rubber cultivation structures are still very much shaped by smallholders, such that fair prices can achieve social improvements. SÜDWIND aims at reporting on these issues as well as pointing out to the rubber industry how to organize their supply chains in a more sustainable way.
Migration and Development
Since 2010, SÜDWIND is working on the topic „Migration and Development“. Working and living conditions of people, which are migrating within their home country or transnational are to the fore. Migrants are usually not only dependent on their respective employer or mediating agencies, but are also lacking access to labor unions and operational representations of interests. Moreover, they do often live in more precarious conditions than the local population.
SÜDWIND studies, with varying regional focus, the causes of migration and flight, migration routes, border regimes, the connection of migration and development cooperation, the impact of people remittances, as well as the coherence between migration and the Sustainable Development Goals of the Agenda 2030.
Around 30 different metals and other resources are used to make our mobile phones work. Their extraction is mostly connected with social and ecological problems: Large areas are destroyed for the extraction of the mineral ores, the work in the mines is often extraordinary dangerous and low wages and child labor is not uncommon. In conflict areas like the eastern part of the DR of the Congo the resource trade is associated with the funding of the ongoing war. The resources are usually processed in low-wage countries, often in connection with health hazards, massive pressure and force to do extra hours, to receive individual parts of the mobile phone.
SÜDWIND is championing to oblige companies to ensure the respect of human rights along their whole value chain of mobile phones and calls for more sustainable consumption and subsequent properly recycling of worn out devices.
Sustainable Financial Investments
SÜDWIND is working since more than 20 years on the topic of sustainable financial investments. Thereby different approaches to make investments more ecological and socially sustainable are analyzed and taken into question. Professional expertise in topics like micro credits, best-in-class approaches, impact investments, shareholder engagement, commodity investments, and investments in land has been gained. Moreover, the consequences of the last financial market crisis for developing and transition countries are part of the research of the SÜDWIND institute.
Shoe and Leather Production
Where do our shoes come? How are they produced, and by whom? What are they made of, and under which circumstances are they produced? The footwear industry works as a good example to explain the increasing globalized value chains, which are highly non-transparent and do often come along with exploitation and human rights violations in the producing countries. Individual stages in the value chain of shoes, especially in the first stages, are highly labor intensive. Some production stages are not only labor are not only including handicraft, but are frequently fulfilled in the form of homework, which e.g. is very cost-intensive in Western European countries, due to the high wage levels an labor standards. SÜDWIND examines where exploitation and human rights violations in the producing countries are occurring along the whole value chain and develops potential solutions jointly with several stakeholders.
Certification and Social Commitment
In order to improve the transparency of global value chains, the introduction of private standards has been impelled: Standard setting organizations, like Fairtrade, UTZ, GOTS etc. develop criteria for a sustainable production. Whether those criteria are fulfilled is usually monitored via audits, which are conducted by commercial audit companies. The audited products are than partly sold with a label. Non-governmental organizations, politics and companies are hoping to identify and stop deficiencies with the help of private standards. Those standards served unanimously the politics as an alternative to legal actions towards the implementation of entrepreneurial due diligence.
Currently, there are several hundred standards for various products, but there are also strong doubts, whether the introduction is really sufficient to stop deficiencies. SÜDWIND is therefore intensively involved in evaluating potentials and boundaries concerning the introduction of standards.