Realising the SDGs: The role of responsible business

Start date
April 16, 2018
End date
May 27, 2022
Project code
Total grant
Contact person
Claire Methven O'Brien

Policy-makers have converged around the view that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires responsible business conduct (RBC), i.e. that businesses meet their “responsibility to respect” human rights by undertaking human rights due diligence as described by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Yet research is lacking on whether, and if so, to what extent policy instruments to promote RBC are effective in achieving RBC and thereby SDG realisation.

This project will generate new knowledge addressing this gap. Specifically, it will analyse the effects in terms of realisation of SDGs 8 and 16 in Ghana and Kenya, via due diligence, of the following three RBC policy instruments: National Action Plans on business and human rights; non-judicial mechanisms for remediation of business-related grievances; sector-specific responsible value chain initiatives. Ghana and Kenya are selected for study because they: allow the use of comparative historical methods; offer the value-added of both sector- and country-comparative approaches; have research capacities sufficient to enable project feasibility yet which will benefit from international partnering.
 The project’s objective is to facilitate better informed decision-making on policy instruments promoting RBC and hence SDG realisation. It will apply a qualitative research design and mixed methodology comprising case studies based on: semi-structured face-toface elite interviews; document analysis; and field observations. It will strengthen research capacity inter alia via: co-design of the research framework; co-supervision of PhD students; joint field-work; completion of 2 PhDs and 8 peer-reviewed articles; author workshops; research stays in Denmark and study visits to Nordic countries. Its contribution to improved policy-making will be achieved via dissemination of research findings through conferences, research and policy networks and online materials.