Realising the SDGs: The role of responsible business


Start date: 16 July, 2018 End date: 27 May, 2022 Project type: Research collaboration projects in Danida priority countries (Window 1) Project code: 17-08-DIHR Countries: Ghana Kenya Thematic areas: Production, industry and labour market, State building, governance and civil society, Lead institution: Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR), Denmark Partner institutions: Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Faculty of Law, Ghana Strathmore University (SU), Kenya Project website: go to website (the site might be inactive) Project coordinator: Claire Methven O'Brien Total grant: 9,393,288 DKK

Project summary

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.


First-year report:

The SDGs assume large-scale private sector support for their realisation. A $2.7 trillion SDG “funding gap” entails the need for business to contribute to fulfilling the SDGs, for instance, via partnerships with development actors, as well as through private sector finance of new infrastructure. Yet business involvement in human rights abuses undermining the SDGs are increasingly widely documented. ‘Realising the SDGs: The Role of Responsible Business’ explores how responsible business initiatives support the Sustainable Development Goals in developing countries. It seeks to support more informed decision-making on effective measures to promote responsible business conduct. Specifically, it explores how policies and institutions promoting business respect for human rights can contribute to respect for ILO Core Labour Standards and Decent Work in line with SDG 8.

The project brings together researchers from Ghana, Kenya and Denmark, and, through stakeholder engagement and outreach it aims to secure impacts at national, regional and international levels.

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