Shaping a Just Transition: A Collaborative Approach to Respecting Human Rights

Kristian Heydenreich
Global Head of Compliance & CSR
Published on 22nd of November 2023



The Social Pillar of our Sustainability Strategy - Safest, Most Inclusive, Most Socially Responsible Company in the Energy Industry - outlines our commitment to integrate human rights in the way we do business. This involves for example working to ensure that safety is a top priority, that we engage with communities around our wind farm projects, promote an inclusive workplace, and more.

On November 15th, 2023, Vestas was recognized as a frontrunner in the renewables industry, ranking first among manufacturers in the 2023 Renewable Energy & Human Rights Benchmark by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC). This benchmark evaluated the human rights policy commitments and practices of 28 companies involved in the wind and solar energy value chains, from developers including utility owners, independent power producers (IPPs), and oil & gas companies, to manufacturers such as Vestas.

Vestas has been working to embed human rights in the renewable energy industry since before we joined the UN Global Compact in 2009.  Following the UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights, adopted in 2011, we have embedded our commitment to respect human rights through policies, strengthened our human rights governance internally, identified and assessed our salient human rights issues across the years, and pioneered in establishing comprehensive full-value chain human rights due diligence systems. Not the least, we have established global grievance and remediation mechanisms to listen and act upon the concerns of employees and communities.

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We welcome the benchmark results as an acknowledgement of our ongoing commitment to working with human rights over the years, and as valuable guidance on stakeholder perceptions for our work ahead.  Our efforts in establishing strong human rights commitments and due diligence processes are recognized as best practice in BHRRC’s benchmark, as well as in publications such as the Danish Institute for Human Rights’ Benchmark on Danish companies and Columbia University’s Business Guide for Commercial Wind and Solar Project Deployment, among others. Additionally, we value the recognition of our conflict minerals initiative and will continue working towards sustainable sourcing.

While benchmarks play a crucial role in assessing publicly available information and providing invaluable insights into stakeholder perceptions, it is crucial to acknowledge their inherent limitation—they cannot fully encapsulate the breadth of a company's initiatives.

Looking Ahead on Our Human Rights Journey

We know that being in the forefront of this benchmark is not enough. Amid increasing expectations, it is imperative that we collaborate closely with our customers and other stakeholders to develop a common approach to human rights within our industry, taking into account the different roles and responsibilities of various actors in the renewable energy sector.

Vestas is committed, among other things, to working on the continuous improvement of our human rights governance and policy commitments, ongoing stakeholder engagement, and supply chain transparency as recommended. Additionally, we will continue to communicate our progress and advocate for future-fit policy that promotes value-adding systems that include responsible business conduct.

Looking forward, we will continue using our leverage in industry groups and multistakeholder initiatives such as Wind Europe, the Nordic Business Network for Human Rights, the local UN Global Compact network on Human Rights, and the Dutch International Responsible Business Conduct Agreement for the Renewable Energy Sector where we will continue shaping the future of a just energy transition collaboratively.

Read more about human rights at Vestas on our site