Realising the SDGs: The role of responsible business


Start date: 16 April, 2018 End date: 31 October, 2023 Project type: Research projects in countries with extended development cooperation (earlier 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), 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.


Midterm report:
Since February 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the project’s planned activities and posed extra administrative and personal burdens on all personnel including in relation to: fieldwork, PhD stays in Denmark and South Africa, international research collaboration, dissemination and outreach. Despite this, the project team has successfully collaborated to revise the project design and working methods to realise project objectives. Following a research and academic development workshop held at the University of Pretoria in 2019, the project’s two PhD students gained ethical approvals for their research, embarked on field work and are on track to complete theses to original timelines. Fieldwork has been undertaken on artisanal gold mining in Ghana and Kenya. Fieldwork involving collaboration between partner institutions has been undertaken on business and human rights National Action Plan development in Kenya and Ghana. Synergies have been harnessed between the project and the development of Ghana’s National Action Plan on business and human rights, with our team informing this process relying on knowledge gained via the project. In terms of publications, the project is on track, with 1 international peer-reviewed article by partners published and 4 to be submitted by end 2021. Stakeholder outreach and dissemination activities have been postponed due but in modified format will be completed before project end. The project period is extended by 1 year.

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