Euroviews. CSDDD at a crossroads: A defining moment for people and planet

A young woman shouts slogans as she marches with thousands of others during a climate change protest in Brussels, January 2019
A young woman shouts slogans as she marches with thousands of others during a climate change protest in Brussels, January 2019 Copyright AP Photo/Euronews
Copyright AP Photo/Euronews
By Catherine Howarth
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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent in any way the editorial position of Euronews.

The passage of CSDDD is not negotiable: it is an essential stride towards a more just, sustainable, and accountable future. The decision on this law is an opportunity for the EU to lead by example, setting a standard that resonates globally, Catherine Howarth writes.

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In an era marked by unprecedented global challenges, the imperative of enacting robust legislation that prioritises human rights and environmental protection cannot be overstated. 

As the EU stands at a crossroads, facing the choice between a legislative framework that safeguards people and the planet and a path that continues on the route of business as usual, the impending EU decision on the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) is a moment that will define Europe's future.

CSDDD is a game-changing piece of legislation aimed at reshaping how businesses operate in Europe and beyond while enhancing the protection of human rights and the environment – that is why ShareAction supported it.

Beneath the surface of business glitz and glamour lies the harsh reality faced by those whose lives are entwined with global supply chains. 

A key instrument in the fight against climate change

CSDDD promises to shift this harsh reality. No longer would companies be able to turn a blind eye to the human cost of their operations, as CSDDD demands a reckoning with the ethical implications of their practices.

Consider the plight of those trapped in forced labour, a clear violation of human rights that persists despite the progress we claim to have made as a global society. 

CSDDD, if enacted, would serve as a powerful deterrent, sending a clear message to businesses that exploitation and abuse will no longer be tolerated. It is a significant step towards ensuring that workers, regardless of their location in the world, are treated with the basic dignity and respect they deserve.

Moreover, CSDDD's impact extends far beyond the confines of workplace abuse. It strikes at the heart of environmental degradation, a threat to the very fabric of our planet. 

This is more than a legal requirement; it is a sound investment in a future where business thrives in harmony with the environment and society.
A male polar bear eats a piece of whale meat as it walks along the shore of Hudson Bay near Churchill, Manitoba, August 2010
A male polar bear eats a piece of whale meat as it walks along the shore of Hudson Bay near Churchill, Manitoba, August 2010Sean Kilpatrick/AP

The directive requires companies to take action on their ecological footprint, addressing issues such as water pollution and emissions. By doing so, CSDDD becomes a key instrument in the global fight against climate change — an advocate for the preservation of our shared home.

Companies, often criticised for their relentless pursuit of profit at any cost, will now confront the inevitable shift towards sustainable and responsible business practices. CSDDD has the potential to mark the beginning of an era where financial success is intrinsically linked to a commitment to people and the planet. 

This is more than a legal requirement; it is a sound investment in a future where business thrives in harmony with the environment and society. In this vein, a myriad of companies has raised their voices in support of CSDDD, highlighting that human rights and environmental due diligence make companies more resilient and better equipped to face future challenges.

No more time to waver

So why would any EU member state, let alone a great EU leader, want to use its power to block the principles of a cleaner, safer world? In recent weeks, Germany, due to pressures from the German Liberals, has become a blocker of CSDDD. 

They have allowed their own internal political troubles to supersede the ambitions of the legislation. Not only that, but the German Liberals are lobbying other EU member states to follow suit and abstain at the next voting opportunity.

Climate protesters demonstrate in Budapest, September 2019
Climate protesters demonstrate in Budapest, September 2019Zoltan Balogh/MTI via AP

This cannot be allowed to happen. It is therefore crucial that Belgium, which currently holds the Presidency in the Council, brings the EU member states back to the table and makes them realise that what is at stake here goes far beyond the borders of one nation.

They must be clear about the historical importance of the measures in the CSDDD and leave Germany with no doubt that if they do not support CSDDD, they risk being on the wrong side of history and irreparably damaging their reputation.

The directive is not just a piece of legislation. It is a commitment to a future where businesses thrive while respecting the environment, and the rights of individuals are safeguarded. The approaching European elections should not be used as an excuse to compromise on these fundamental principles.

The passage of CSDDD is not negotiable: it is an essential stride towards a more just, sustainable, and accountable future. The decision on this law is an opportunity for the EU to lead by example, setting a standard that resonates globally. 

There is no more time to waver, only to boldly support CSDDD for the betterment of us all.

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Catherine Howarth is Chief Executive of ShareAction.

At Euronews, we believe all views matter. Contact us at view@euronews.com to send pitches or submissions and be part of the conversation.

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