World Bank to the fore in FIDIC-organised industry discussion on forced labour in green energy sector.
The real risks of the use of forced labour in global supply chains supporting the rise of renewable energy and energy storage, include mining and processing of minerals, were placed firmly in the spotlight today at an online industry discussion, organised by the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) and supported by the World Bank.
The session, entitled “Managing risks of forced labour in the global supply chain for energy transition”, was chaired by FIDIC CEO Dr Nelson Ogunshakin, and the expert industry panel of speakers included Enzo de Laurentiis, chief procurement officer at the World Bank, Philip Napier-Moore, energy sector leader, ASEAN and East Asia at Mott MacDonald, Husni Madi, chief executive officer of Shura Construction Management, Tim de Meyer, senior adviser on international labour at the International Labour Organisation and Daduna Kokhreidze, general counsel at FIDIC.
Panellists discussed the key issues around forced labour arising in the renewable energy supply chain and the ongoing industry efforts to mitigate risks which would protect workers globally supporting the energy transition.
Addressing the event, the World Bank’s chief procurement officer, Enzo de Laurentiis, said: “This is a very serious issue and we have made a very firm commitment on it. We have strengthened provisions in our contracts by including forced labour bidder declarations, qualification requirements and strengthened contractual provision in procurement.”
Laurentiis reported that the World Bank had also recently enhanced its standard procurement documents to require its borrowers to strengthen procurements involving solar panels/solar components. He said that the bank was keen to collaborate with the industry and its representative bodies, like FIDIC, to mitigate the risks around forced labour in global supply chains in the renewable energy and energy storage sector.
Philip Napier-Moore, energy sector leader, ASEAN and East Asia at Mott MacDonald, put the issue in context, saying: “Forced labour issues in the renewable energy supply chain have been relatively ignored in the past and the weak points tend to be way down the supply chain. The industry has acted but we need more tailored guidance and a structured approach to help drive change down through that supply chain.”
FIDIC Contracts Committee member Husni Madi, who is also chief executive officer of Shura Construction Management, highlighted relevant clauses in FIDIC contracts that provided an opportunity to address the issue of forced labour. “In most countries forced labour is prohibited but there are some loopholes. Our duty is to ensure that our contracts support the prevention of forced labour being used by suppliers and/or contractors when working with FIDIC forms,” said Madi.
Tim de Meyer, senior adviser on international labour at the International Labour Organization (ILO), said that the energy sector should be congratulated for looking at ways of pushing a “just transition” to a low carbon economy and for levering procurement to combat forced labour. “Forced labour manifests itself in many different ways and supply chains can be affected differently too,” said de Meyer, who went on to explain that the ILO had a number of conventions and instruments outlawing forced labour and these had been adopted by most nations around the globe.
There was also “a social floor to globalisation”, de Meyer said, that needed to be considered and this was something that the ILO was keen to promote. He also advised his audience to be careful when working with countries that use a lot of migrant or bonded labour when working with supply chains and he pointed to the ILOs website which contained much information and indicators on how to spot the risks of the use of forced labour in the renewable energy sector.
Daduna Kokhreidze, general counsel at FIDIC, said that it was important for all stakeholders to engage on these important issues and FIDIC was keen to play its part in raising awareness across the industry of the scourge of forced labour and that this would continue in the future.
Summing up the session, FIDIC CEO Dr Nelson Ogunshakin said: “FIDIC is really pleased to have been able to provide this platform for our industry to discuss the crucial issues around forced labour and how to combat this scourge. We will continue to do so and do all we can to raise awareness across the global construction and infrastructure sector.”