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On 4th March, Director of Sustainability at The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), Didier Bergeret, joined the 8th annual World Ocean Summit for a session entitled, “Developing a common position on human rights due diligence in fishing.” Didier, who oversees the CGF’s Human Rights Coalition — Working to End Forced Labour (HRC), Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative (SSCI), and Forest Positive Coalition, was invited to join the panel and provide the corporate perspective on human rights concerns in the fishing sector and how collaborative efforts, like the CGF’s Coalitions of Action, can make an impact.

Didier joined Niklas Wehner, Corporate Social Responsibility Director at ALDI SOUTH Group, and Steve Trent, Executive Director at the Environmental Justice Foundation, and The Economist’s Deputy Executive Director, Miranda Johnson, moderated the session.

The panel started with an overview of human rights concerns within the fishing sector, which the panel explained are exacerbated and even facilitated by the lack of transparency and aligned legislation in the sector to identify, address and prevent such concerns. From the corporate perspective, Didier shared that major companies are indeed aware of the problem. Still, he said,  the first priority still needs to remain on raising awareness of the systemic challenges which render workers in the fishing industry vulnerable to exploitation and human rights abuses. Collaboration and collective action is key in addressing this issue of transparency in order to make sure “everyone is on the same page” in order to create the strongest action plan for change.

“If we join forces, this problem is sizable,” Didier said. “So that means that we can effectively cover all fishing vessels at one stage. We have the technology. We can increase the transparency, which, at this stage, it’s just not there in full. But it’s completely achievable if you connect all the major players and if you work hand-in-hand with governments.”

The panel also touched on the role of certification and while sustainability standards can support companies in their supply chain due diligence, the lack of alignment among standards’ ways of working and criteria can be confusing for companies, organisations and consumers alike to understand. That is why the work of the SSCI is so important, Didier said, because it helps set the bar of expectations for certification schemes to meet with regards to how they operate and what elements of sustainability they examine.

The panel concluded with agreement among the panellists that collective action against this issue is one of the most essential tools for driving tangible, positive change.

The CGF was pleased to partner with The Economist’s World Ocean Initiative to support this year’s World Ocean Summit. For more details about the Summit, visit the Summit’s website.

For more information about the CGF’s work around due diligence, responsible recruitment, and the fishing sector, learn about the Human Rights Coalition Working to End Forced Labour and Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative.