OVERCOMING THE GLOBAL DESPONDENCY TRAP : STRENGTHENING CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY IN SUPPLY CHAINS
Many activists are stuck in a despondency trap. Never seeing radical reform, they assume it is impossible, moderate their ambitions, and invest in more feasible but sub-optimal alternatives. This creates a negative feedback loop, in which the dearth of radical reform becomes self-fulfilling. But if reformists see advances at home and abroad, they may become more optimistic about collective mobilisation and break out of their despondency trap. This is shown by tracing the drivers of ground-breaking legislation. From 2018, large French firms must mitigate risks of environmental and human rights abuses in their global supply chains, or else be liable. This bill – the world’s first of its kind – was vociferously contested by businesses. But French campaigners and politicians persisted for four years, because fortuitous circumstances fueled hope for reform. Meanwhile in Switzerland, a huge civil society coalition is pushing for corporate accountability. Although the right-wing government courts a wealth of multinationals, Swiss activists knew they could change the constitution if their popular initiative gained 100'000 signatures and a subsequent majority of the people and cantons. Believing change was possible, a growing coalition invested in sustained activism. As more organisations joined, others gained confidence in the possibility of legislative change, so invested in the Responsible Business Initiative. Their advances have delivered a positive shock to activists across Europe, inspired to launch similar campaigns, and escape their despondency trap.
Thursday 28 November 2019 (16h00 - 18h00) - Géopolis - 2879