The International Responsible Business Conduct (IRBC) Agreement for the floricultural sector was signed at the World Horti Center in Naaldwijk this week. The Dutch floricultural sector has joined forces with the Dutch government, a trade union and an NGO to agree on a more responsible approach to international production of and trade in ornamental plants.
The agreement is widely supported by the sector and more companies are expected to join in the coming months. Sigrid Kaag, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation and Carola Schouten, Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, signed the agreement on behalf of the Dutch government. It was signed on behalf of the sector by individual companies, Royal FloraHolland and representative organisations.
Its first task will be to identify social and environmental risks at sector and company level. Assistance will be provided by the government, the trade union and the NGO. In the first year, projects will be started concerning living wage and the impact of crop protection products on people and the environment.
The scope of the agreement covers the chains for the breeding and production of flower bulbs, parent material, cut flowers, cut foliage, trees and pot and bedding plants. The Netherlands is a major hub in the international floricultural trade. The Netherlands exports flowers and plants worldwide to the tune of EUR 6 billion and imports flowers worth over EUR 600 million from Africa and over EUR 100 million from South America. The main import countries are Kenya, Ethiopia, Ecuador and Colombia. Approximately 600 Dutch trading companies operate internationally.
The agreement was drawn up after a period of intensive consultation under the auspices of the Social and Economic Council. It builds on the sector’s existing Floriculture Sustainability Initiative (FSI). The implementation of the agreement will be facilitated and chaired by IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative.
Why is this agreement necessary?
Companies must endeavour to achieve international responsible business conduct and sustainable supply chain management. This is what society and the government expect. It is also laid down in international guidelines and obligations such as the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises issued by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the core labour standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO). In the Netherlands, IRBC Agreements to this effect have now been made in 10 sectors.
The IRBC Agreement for the Floricultural Sector is signed by:
Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality – Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation – AFRI FLORA – Albert Heijn – Dümmen Orange – Dutch Flower Group – Fleura Metz – Floratradeconsult – Royal Lemkes – Waterdrinker – HIVOS – FNV – Royal FloraHolland – Glastuinbouw Nederland – Tuinbranche Nederland – Association of Dutch Flower Wholesalers and Growers.