Human Rights Day 2023:
Advancing action through collaboration

Human Rights Day
  • Givaudan’s commitment to respect human rights
  • What’s our approach to human rights?
  • What are our key focus areas?
  • What does this look like in practice?
  • Sustainable jasmine production in Egypt’s Nile Delta
  • Improving lives and livelihoods our vanilla supply chain in Madagascar
  • Advancing human rights in palm oil sourcing in Indonesia
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December 10 is Human Rights Day. This year, the event focuses on the theme of Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All, marking the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

At Givaudan, we’ve made an explicit commitment to respect human rights. This commitment is a vital part of our purpose ambition to source all materials and services in a way that protects people and the environment before 2030 and our ambition to improve millions of lives in the communities where we source and operate by the same time.

Aligned to our purpose we believe strongly that we must take responsibility for our actions and act with empathy and humility wherever we are present. We care about the impact of our decisions, large and small, on those around us. This includes impacts on human rights and preventing harm to any person(s) associated with our business.

What’s our approach to human rights?
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What’s our approach to human rights?

Our approach to human rights forms an important part of our contribution to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, our commitment to the UN Global Compact’s Ten Principles and to the principles outlined in the WBCSD CEO Guide to Human Rights, which we signed in 2021. It is aligned to the most stringent and recognised global frameworks. These include the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises of June 2011 and the Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy of March 2017.

When we talk about human rights, we mean the rights which are expressed in the International Bill of Human Rights (including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) and the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. In some cases, where our principles and practices are stricter than applicable legislation and are aligned with applicable human rights frameworks, we apply our own internal higher standards. We actively participate in key Human Rights forums such as UN Global Compact’s Peer Learning Meeting on Business and Human Rights held in Copenhagen in November 2023 which focused on living wage and promoting a life of dignity for all workers, families and communities.

What are our key focus areas?
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What are our key focus areas?

Our approach, underpinned by our Human Rights Policy, is built around key areas where we can deliver the greatest impact. These include:

  • the right to a decent workplace, health and wellbeing, consumer health and safety, child labour and forced labour; and
  • the rights of communities where we operate and source (including right to clean environment).

You can read more on our approach here.

What does this look like in practice?
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What does this look like in practice?

Through our extensive Human Rights programme, we are implementing a range of initiatives across our key focus areas. As a business with strong links to agricultural supply chains through our sourcing activities, labour conditions and fundamental rights at work are of particular focus within this work. Alongside our activities in the field, we are rolling out rigorous training programmes for colleagues across and outside Givaudan on human rights.

Sustainable jasmine production in Egypt’s Nile Delta
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Sustainable jasmine production in Egypt’s Nile Delta

Human Rights Day 2023

Jasmine, with its captivating aroma, is pivotal in perfumery, providing steady income for villages in Egypt’s Nile Delta. As a global leader in jasmine extract production, Egypt’s jasmine cultivation faces unique challenges and opportunities.

Some of the key challenges facing this supply chain include:

  • Pest threats: Insects and pests endangering crops.
  • Farmer knowledge gap: Limited understanding of using agricultural products safely and efficiently.
  • Labour concerns: The labour-intensive process of handpicking flowers, starting at 3 am, raises issues like child labour, impacting women and the elderly significantly.
Jasmine harvest Jasmine harvest

As a business, we prioritise responsible production, focusing on the wellbeing of farmers, workers, and communities. Key initiatives in this supply chain include:

  • Supplier engagement: Collaborating with suppliers to enhance awareness of human rights, labour standards, and agricultural practices.
  • External assessments: Assessing suppliers against the Union for Ethical Biotrade (UEBT) standards, focusing on sustainable practices and continuous improvement.
Jasmine harvest Jasmine harvest

In 2019, we began a four-year project through a partnership between the Givaudan Foundation, a key supplier, and an organisation specialised in environmental and social training.

The focus was on promoting sustainable agricultural practices, protecting the health of farmers and workers, and ensuring their incomes.

By 2023, 240 smallholders had been supported in pioneering regenerative agricultural practices in plant protection and fertilisation.

This programme, coupled with ongoing coaching, empowers farmers to address pests and insects in a safer and more sustainable manner.

In addition, it enhances their understanding of agricultural techniques, ensuring a viable and prosperous future.

Jasmine harvest
Improving lives and livelihoods our vanilla supply chain in Madagascar
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Improving lives and livelihoods our vanilla supply chain in Madagascar

Human Rights Day 2023

In Madagascar, a leading producer of vanilla, we have undertaken a comprehensive programme to transform the vanilla supply chain. Through our joint venture SOMAVA and with the support of the Givaudan Foundation and Save the Children, we are committed to improving farmers' livelihoods, promoting sustainable agriculture, and ensuring access to essential services.

Key initiatives related to human rights include:

Improving lives and livelihoods

The Givaudan Foundation’s extensive programme focuses on elevating the quality of life for vanilla farmers.

This includes enhancing and providing critical infrastructure like education, sanitation, and healthcare. It also includes the promotion of alternative revenue-generating activities for farmers.

Promoting gender empowerment and protecting children’s rights through training

Collaborating with Save the Children, we’ve integrated a responsible sourcing approach that addresses human rights and labour issues, including the promotion of gender empowerment and protection of children’s rights.

Through a train the trainer approach, eight SOMAVA employees have received specialised training on human rights, child labour awareness, and the Gender Action Learning System (GALS).

This approach empowers both women and men, promoting gender justice and control over their lives.

Through the Save the Children programme we have so far reached half of the vanilla-supplying villages, directly benefiting over 880 producers with training on child labour and gender empowerment. We aim to extend this training to all our vanilla-supplying villages, maintaining continuous engagement with producers on these critical issues.

Through the work of the Givaudan Foundation, we have reached more than 25,000 beneficiaries in 32 villages in addition to building and restoring 72 wells, building health centre serving more than 9,000 people in seven villages as point of primary care as well as helping build and repairing 30 schools in the region, benefiting more than 5,000 schoolchildren.  

Children in Madagscar Schoolchlldren in Madagascar

Our collective efforts in this supply chain represents a significant step towards a more sustainable, ethical, and socially responsible vanilla production in Madagascar.

By focusing on farmer empowerment, gender equality, and community welfare, we are setting new standards in the industry, ensuring that our success is shared with those at the heart of vanilla production.

Drying of vanilla beans


Advancing human rights in palm oil sourcing in Indonesia
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Advancing human rights in palm oil sourcing in Indonesia

Human Rights Day 2023

Palm oil is a key ingredient category in our Responsible Sourcing programme. Givaudan uses palm materials and their derivatives as ingredients in its flavours and fragrances.

Through our approach to responsible sourcing we are embedding our commitment to create a positive impact on the ingredient supply chains we source from, helping preserve the environment and, importantly, ensuring respect for human rights.

Key opportunities to embed human rights in this supply chain include:

Our ambition to source sustainable palm ingredients from suppliers committing to the ‘No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation (NDPE)’ principles

This includes a strong focus on ensuring no exploitation of workers or communities, as well as that human rights are respected and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights supported.

Collaboration with industry experts and stakeholders to influence change

Through co-investment in local transformation projects on the ground of our own key sourcing areas.

Our goal is to co-create positive and tangible impact for our upstream suppliers, smallholders and communities in close collaboration with local governments and NGOs.

We believe that a mixture of certification and local projects will enhance our impact on creating positive change within the palm industry. These investments in local projects will gradually increase in the next three years, strengthening the investments’ link to our identified sourcing areas.

Together with Earthworm Foundation we are actively involved in several key landscape projects in palm oil supply chains in Indonesia. As part of this we are members of Earthworm Foundation’s palm oil derivative working group, through which we collaborate alongside seven other companies, sharing knowledge, and collectively engaging key suppliers and supply chain actors to drive positive change.

Read more

This has included dedicated human rights training with our main supplier in Indonesia and we plan to roll this out more widely in the coming year.

Credit photography: Earthworm Foundation

Palm harvest


Find out more about Human Rights Day here.