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Human rights and community engagement

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Every individual has a right to be treated with dignity, without discrimination. Geopolitical tensions, climate change, and increasing inequality further emphasise the importance of human rights. With a strong global presence, Stora Enso depends on thriving and resilient communities.  Our commitment to respect human rights covers all our operations, including our employees, contractors, suppliers, and neighbouring communities. 

Our Purpose “Do Good for the People and the Planet” and our Values “Lead” and “Do What’s Right” underline our commitment to doing business responsibly in the communities in which we operate. 

Commitment to human rights

Our approach to human rights is informed by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights which emphasise that companies have an ongoing responsibility to respect human rights, even where government actions and regulatory frameworks are inadequate. We take human rights into account across our operations starting from the investment decisions, paying special attention to vulnerable groups, and encouraging our partners to do the same. While we respect and consider all human rights important, the following most salient human rights topics remain the primary focus of our work.
  1. Health and safety
  2. Fair labour (freedom from forced labour, freedom of association, non-discrimination and non-harassment)
  3. Land and natural resource rights acquisition and management
  4. Acquisition and management of land and natural resource rights
  5. Children’s rights

Value chain transparency

Improving value chain transparency is a key component of our human rights due diligence. Stora Enso has been a member of the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (Sedex), since 2011, a platform where companies share unit-specific sustainability information with customers. Sedex Member Ethical Data Audits (SMETA) are conducted regularly, assessing suppliers’ performance against applicable labour standards, as well as health and safety, environmental, and business ethics criteria.

Furthermore, we are a member of EcoVadis, a platform where companies’ supplier performance is assessed and shared with customers. In 2023, Stora Enso was awarded the highest ‘Platinum’ level by EcoVadis for the seventh consecutive year. We also take part in membership organisations such as the Global Business Initiative for Human Rights (GBI), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), and the Enact Human Rights & Business Practice Group (HRBPG) for access to expert knowledge and peer learning.

Engaging with local communities

Communities around our production sites and forestry operations form one of our most important stakeholder groups. Stora Enso is a significant employer, business partner, and taxpayer in its operating areas, while its investments improve local infrastructure. Our operations are heavily dependent on local communities for a skilled and competitive workforce, and for the sourcing of our most important raw material, wood. We have a long history in engaging with local communities in different local settings and cultures. The form and frequency of the engagement with local communities is shaped by the local context. In some areas, the interaction is through community representatives while others may prefer direct and inclusive contact. Many of our employees live in these communities and have a deeper understanding of the local context. We strive to manage our socio-environmental impacts responsibly in order to minimise negative impacts, maximise our positive influence, and maintain a constructive community dialogue that ensures our long-term license to operate.

Community consultations and land use

Our tree plantations and land holdings are an integral part of local land use, and therefore sustainable land use practices are defined specifically for each location. Local communities are consulted during the planning and decision-making stages of new investments. Community consultations, including Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), are a key element in Stora Enso’s human rights due diligence and forestry operations, especially concerning land leasing and indigenous peoples’ rights. Our precautionary and systematic actions to mitigate and remedy potential adverse environmental and social impacts on local stakeholders in community development and/or monitoring include:

  • Due diligence, in which we evaluate the impact that the current or potential business operations may have on local communities and the environment. Community consultations are a key element of this work.
  • Third-party certified management systems in place at production units that apply international standards such as ISO 14001, ISO 45001 and ISO 50001.
  • Third-party forest management certification for the Group’s own forestry operations and suppliers, such as FSC and PEFC, which also include community considerations.
  • When necessary, restructuring processes and the closure of operations are realised in co-operation with the authorities to support communities through related changes and to create opportunities for new business initiatives.
  • Grievance mechanisms available to communities close to our operations.

Policies and guidelines guiding our human rights work

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