Why sustainability

The world face big challenges. Through responsible business conduct, businesses contribute to trade that is beneficial for people, society and environment.

The big picture

Global trading have lifted millions of workers out of extreme poverty through labor. Today, it is estimated that over 450 million people work in global supply chains.

Even though international trade has provided opportunities for many, increased production and consumption have also posed major challenges. The world is facing a climate crisis and the inequality both in and between countries is increasing.

The UN’s Sustainability Development Goals are the world’s joint action plan for sustainable development, which means that today’s generation can meet their needs without destroying the ability of future gerenations to meet their needs. Responsible business conduct, also called etichal trade, is a business practice that secure human rights, workers rights, society and environmental standards and a prerequisite for achieving the UN’s sustainability goals.

Through responsible business conduct, businesses contribute to trade that is beneficial for people, society and environment. In pracitice this is for example about creating good jobs in global supply chains; jobs that pay a fair wage, which are safe and provide equal opportunities, regardless of gender or background. It is also about securing a production that is whitin the planet’s tolerance limits and which takes into account the local communities right to clean water and fresh air.

Challenges in the supply chain

The pressure to achieve low prices are huge in the global supply chain, and it often have a negative effect on the people who produces our products, the local communities they live in and the natural resources that are used in the production.

The authority’s implementation of environmental and labor laws are weak in many of the countries that produces goods sold in Norwegian stores. In addition, the risk of corruption is often high and human rights violations a serious problem.

Did you know that:

  • 300 million workers lives in extreme poverty, and even more lives in relative poverty.
  • The 50% poorest in the world recieved 12% of the income growth between 1980 and 2016.
  • 4 billion people, almost 2/3 of the world’s populations, experience severe water shortages at least one month each year.
  • The world’s CO2 emissions must be cut by more than 50% by 2030, and reach 0 by 2050, to limit global warming to 1.5%C, as recommended by UN experts.
  • Nearly 3 million people die each year due to work-related illness or accident.
  • Women earn approximately 20% less than men worldwide.
  • In 2019, workers in 52 countries were exposed to violence and trade union representatives were killed in 10 countries.
  • 25 million people are in forced labor, 16  million in the private sector.

Code of conduct

Etichal trade Norway's principles for responsible business conduct are based on UN and ILO conventions and set minimum not maximum standards. The legislation at the production site must be respected. Where national laws and regulations cover the same theme as these guidelines, the highest standard shall apply.

Code of conduct

1. Forced and compulsory labour (ILO Conventions Nos. 29 and 105)

bullet arrow1.1. There shall be no forced, bonded or involuntary prison labour.

bullet arrow1.2. Workers shall not be required to lodge deposits or identity papers with their employer and shall be free to leave their employer after reasonable notice.

Code of conduct

2. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining (ILO Conventions Nos. 87, 98, 135 and 154)

bullet arrow2.1. Workers, without distinction, shall have the right to join or form trade unions of their own choosing and to bargain collectively. The employer shall not interfere with, obstruct, the formation of unions or collective bargaining.

bullet arrow2.2 Workers’ representatives shall not be discriminated and shall have access to carry out their representative functions in the workplace.

bullet arrow2.3 Where the right to freedom of association and/or collective bargaining is restricted under law, the employer shall facilitate, and not hinder, the development of alternative forms of independent and free workers representation and negotiations.

Code of conduct

3. Child Labour (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ILO Conventions Nos. 138, 182 and 79, and ILO Recommendation No. 146)

bullet arrow3.1. The minimum age for workers shall not be less than 15 and comply with i) the national minimum age for employment, or; ii) the age of completion of compulsory education,

bullet arrow3.2. whichever of these is higher. If local minimum is set at 14 years in accordance with developing country exceptions under ILO Convention 138, this lower age may apply.

bullet arrow3.3. There shall be no recruitment of child labour defined as any work performed by a child younger than the age(s) specified above.

bullet arrow3.4. No person under the age of 18 shall be engaged in labour that is hazardous to their health, safety or morals, including night work.

bullet arrow3.5. Policies and procedures for remediation of child labour prohibited by ILO conventions no. 138 and 182, shall be established, documented, and communicated to personnel and other interested parties. Adequate support shall be provided to enable such children to attend and complete compulsory education.

Code of conduct

4. Discrimination (ILO Conventions Nos. 100 and 111 and the UN Convention on Discrimination Against Women)

bullet arrow4.1. There shall be no discrimination at the workplace in hiring, compensation, access to training, promotion, termination or retirement based on ethnic background, caste, religion, age, disability, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, union membership or political affiliation.

bullet arrow4.2. Measures shall be established to protect workers from sexually intrusive, threatening, insulting or exploitative behaviour, and from discrimination or termination of employment on unjustifiable grounds, e.g. marriage, pregnancy, parenthood or HIV status.

Code of conduct

5. Harsh or Inhumane Treatment (UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Art. 7)

bullet arrow5.1. Physical abuse or punishment, or threats of physical abuse, sexual or other harassment and verbal abuse, as well as other forms of intimidation, is prohibited.

Code of conduct

6. Health and Safety (ILO Convention No. 155 and ILO Recommendation No. 164)

bullet arrow6.1. The working environment shall be safe and hygienic, bearing in mind the prevailing knowledge of the industry and of any specific hazards. Hazardous chemicals and other substances shall be carefully managed. Adequate steps shall be taken to prevent accidents and injury to health arising out of, associated with, or occurring in, the course of work, by minimising, so far as is reasonably practicable, the causes of hazards inherent in the working environment.

bullet arrow6.2. Workers shall receive regular and documented health and safety training, and such training shall be repeated for new or reassigned workers.

bullet arrow6.3. Access to clean toilet facilities and to potable water, and, if appropriate, sanitary facilities for food storage shall be provided.

bullet arrow6.4. Accommodation, where provided, shall be clean, safe and adequately ventilated, and shall have access to clean toilet facilities and potable water.

Code of conduct

7. Wages (ILO Convention No. 131)

bullet arrow7.1. Wages and benefits paid for a standard working week shall as minimum meet national legal standards or industry benchmark standards, whichever is higher. Wages should always be enough to meet basic needs, including some discretionary income.

bullet arrow7.2. All workers shall be provided with a written and comprehensible contract outlining their wage conditions and method of payments before entering employment.

bullet arrow7.3. Deductions from wages as a disciplinary measure shall not be permitted.

Code of conduct

8. Working Hours (ILO Convention No. 1 and 14)

bullet arrow8.1. Working hours shall comply with national laws and benchmark industry standards, and not more than prevailing international standards. Weekly working hours should not on a regular basis be more than 48 hours.

bullet arrow8.2. Workers shall be provided with at least one day off for every 7 day period.

bullet arrow8.3. Overtime shall be limited and voluntary. Recommended maximum overtime is 12 hours per week, i.e. that the total working week including overtime shall not exceed 60 hours. Exceptions to this are accepted when regulated by a collective bargaining agreement.

bullet arrow8.4. Workers shall always receive overtime pay for all hours worked over and above the normal working hours (see 8.1 above), minimum in accordance with relevant legislation.

Code of conduct

9. Regular Employment (ILO Convention No. 95, 158, 175, 177 and 181)

bullet arrow9.1. Obligations to employees under international conventions, national law and regulations concerning regular employment shall not be avoided through the use of short term contracting (such as contract labour, casual labour or day labour), sub-contractors or other labour relationships.

bullet arrow9.2. All workers are entitled to a contract of employment in a language they understand.

bullet arrow9.3. The duration and content of apprenticeship programmes shall be clearly defined.

Code of conduct

10. Marginalized Populations (UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, art. 1 and 2)

bullet arrow10.1. Production and the use of natural resources shall not contribute to the destruction and/or degradation of the resources and income base for marginalized populations, such as in claiming large land areas, use of water or other natural resources on which these populations are dependent.

Code of conduct

11. Environment

bullet arrow11.1. Negative impact on the environment shall be reduced throughout the value chain. In line with the precautionary principle, measures shall be taken to continuously minimize greenhouse gas emissions and local pollution, the use of harmful chemicals, pesticides, and to ensure sustainable resource extraction and management of water, oceans, forest and land, and the conservation of biodiversity.

bullet arrow11.2. National and international environmental legislation and regulations shall be respected and relevant discharge permits obtained.

Code of conduct

12. Corruption

bullet arrow12.1. Corruption in any form is not accepted, including bribery, extortion, kickbacks and improper private or professional benefits to customers, agents, contractors, suppliers or employees of any such party or government officials.

Code of conduct

13. Animal welfare

bullet arrow13.1 Animal welfare shall be respected. Measures should be taken to minimize any negative impact on the welfare of livestock and working animals.

bullet arrow13.2 National and international animal welfare legislation and regulations shall be respected.

Your role

We offer our member guidance and tools, which enables them to handle the challenges with etichal trade in the supply chain.

Because there is no law that prohibits or prevents Norwegian companies from importing goods made under illegal conditions, such as child labor and extreme use of overtime, the work on ethical trade is something the business itself must address. Etichal trade Norway offers membership were we help with guidance and tools.

Guidance and tools

We provide individual guidance to our members in relation to their progress with the work on ethical trade. Our members openly report on the staus and progress in the work with ethical trade.

The membership gives access to our member page, tools, network, courses and seminars. On our member page you will find most of Ethical trade Norway’s templates and tools.

We also provide advice and arrange courses in producer countries. We arrange courses for our members’ suppliers in China, Vietnam, India and Bangladesh.

Constant development

Ethical trade Norway constantly develop and improves tools and work along side several organizations to share and further develop resources. In this ares, it is essential to share experience and together we make ethical trade more resource efficient.