The Federal Government particularly wants to help small and medium-sized enterprises to fulfil the extensive corporate due diligence requirements and expectations with respect to human rights. Numerous measures and services are already available for this purpose. They include:
- The National CSR Forum which was launched by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in 2009 and currently consists of 41 members – high-ranking experts from business, trade unions, non-governmental organisations and research bodies as well as representatives of the participating federal ministries. The tasks of the National CSR Forum include advising the Federal Government on the continuing development of the national CSR strategy and the implementation of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights. This also ensures, among other things, that the assistance enterprises need to successfully meet their due diligence obligations must be continually communicated to the Federal Government and the services correspondingly adjusted, when possible.
- The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development makes information and guidelines available to enterprises of various sizes from various sectors, particularly by funding the work of the German Global Compact Network. The Ministry has funded the German Global Compact Network since 2004 in close cooperation with the Federal Foreign Office. The network comprises the German signatories of the UN Global Compact, whose core principles include respect for fundamental human rights and labour standards. As a business-driven multi-stakeholder forum, the network has provided training courses since 2008 on implementing corporate responsibility for human rights at management level.
- The Agency for Business and Economic Development was created in 2016. It is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and its personnel is provided by the GIZ and DEG. It advises enterprises operating in developing and emerging countries regarding assistance and information provided through development policy measures. With the NAP Helpdesk, the agency offers enterprises customised advice regarding the requirements laid down by the National Action Plan for business operations in developing and emerging countries.
- The Federal Government has supported the Business and Human Rights Resource Center information platform since 2012. A German-language version of the platform was launched in 2014. The website provides information on human rights challenges by region, issue, risk group, and even by enterprise.
- The Chambers of Industry and Commerce are already very active in providing enterprises with guidance. German Chambers of Commerce Abroad can inform enterprises about the current legal and de facto situation in foreign countries. In some countries, the chambers, in cooperation with German development cooperation agencies, operate CSR centres of excellence which provide advice on CSR measures.
- The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety has promoted the export of sustainable infrastructures since 2016 and, through its dissemination of innovative technologies and corresponding knowledge building in the area of environmental and climate protection, produces environmental benefits which ultimately contribute to sustainable economic development that also takes human rights into account.
The Federal Government will continue to expand its support services in future.