Bonsucro Grievance Mechanism
Bonsucro Grievance Mechanism is one of the various options made available to individuals and organisations wishing to report or complain about the actions of a Bonsucro Member.
Having an effective Grievance Mechanism is an essential part of proactive compliance, risk management and remediation, as recommended by the UNGP. It is also essential for Bonsucro to demonstrate the credibility of its scheme to all stakeholders, including ISEAL, the OECD and the European Commission (EU RED accreditation). Bonsucro has undergone a complete review and revision of its grievance mechanism which presented a unique opportunity to:
- Reinforce Bonsucro’s responsibility to uphold and respect human rights and environmental stewardship;
- Incorporate stakeholder and member views in the design of the Grievance Mechanism;
- Increase impartiality and credibility of the process;
- Outline a clear and more transparent process;
- Align with internationally recognised frameworks;
- Promote resolution of complaints via mediation.
The Bonsucro Secretariat received the support of DLA Piper, an independent law firm and the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR), a leading international alternative dispute resolution organisation to develop the Grievance Mechanism and build a framework aligned with international best practice. The Grievance Mechanism has been designed to align with the UNGP Effectiveness Criteria, specifically by:
- Developing detailed rules of procedure to increase predictability and transparency;
- Engaging stakeholders in the design to ensure legitimacy and credibility;
- Including a range of support mechanisms and detailed guidance to ensure accessibility and equitability;
- Ensuring remediation options retain flexibility to ensure they can be rights-compatible;
- Including a regular review process to ensure it is a source of continuous learning;
- Clarifying the interaction with Certification Bodies and the Certification process when applicable.
Whilst designed to align with the UNGP Effectiveness criteria, we also recognise that Bonsucro is a small, non-profit organisation with limited funds and resources available and with a diverse membership base with large geographic reach. This inevitably means that some compromises had to be made and in some cases there may be restrictions that prevent certain steps from being taken. We are mindful of these limitations and are taking steps to mitigate them and make sure there is effective alignment with best practice, where practicable.
Bonsucro appointed the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution to administer the
Grievance Mechanism which will launch with service provision on 14 August 2020.
Bonsucro Grievance Mechanism Rules
Bonsucro Grievance Mechanism FAQs
Having an effective Grievance Mechanism is essential for proactive compliance, risk management and remediation. It also demonstrates the credibility of Bonsucro to stakeholders, including ISEAL and the European Commission (EU RED accreditation).
Bonsucro wanted to take proactive steps to improve its Grievance Mechanism to align it with the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGP) on Business and Human Rights, Effectiveness Criteria. Bonsucro worked with DLA Piper, an international law firm, to build a framework, that:
- ensures predictability and transparency
- engaged with stakeholders during the design to ensure legitimacy and credibility
- provides measures and guidance to promote accessibility, appropriate to Bonsucro’s size and resources
- includes a regular review process to ensure continuous learning
- clarifies the interaction with certification bodies and the certification process when applicable.
Bonsucro’s Grievance Mechanism was assessed by DLA Piper. In person and online consultations were then conducted with stakeholders which helped the Secretariat and Members Council to build a framework and uncover the key topics and ideas for the review.
The Bonsucro Grievance Mechanism Rules document went out for an eight-week public consultation. This included engagement with stakeholders, including civil society organisations and those representing the interests of potentially affected stakeholder groups.
The Bonsucro Secretariat used the feedback to launch the Grievance Mechanism and define a plan to improve awareness raising, capacity building, funding, and accessibility.
How does Bonsucro’s Grievance Mechanism fit within its overall Complaints and Grievances Management System?
The Bonsucro Grievance Mechanism is part of a wider ecosystem in place at Bonsucro to listen and respond to concerns raised by individuals and/or organisations.
There are many ways to flag and investigate a concern before lodging a formal complaint with the Bonsucro Grievance Mechanism. Bonsucro has detailed the range of options stakeholders can use to raise any substantive concerns about a Bonsucro member, a licensed certification body or Bonsucro’s services. This can be found on Bonsucro’s website here.
There was overwhelming support from stakeholders that Bonsucro’s Grievance Mechanism was developed to offer mediation and to have a fair and independent process to determine the validity of allegations made and any action to be taken as a result.
For this reason, Bonsucro decided to partner with the Centre for Effect Dispute Resolution (CEDR). CEDR is a well-established and highly respected organisation, at the forefront of providing mediation services for commercial disputes. Its partnership with Bonsucro is aligned with its development of alternative dispute mechanisms in the field of human rights.
The Bonsucro Grievance Mechanism only applies to Bonsucro members. Complaints relating to criminal and urgent matters are not out of scope, however it is likely that Bonsucro is not the right organisation to adjudicate on these matters. Therefore, Bonsucro encourages complainants to approach more relevant authorities to address criminal and urgent matters.
There was significant support to use mediation to facilitate early resolution of complaints. Bringing parties together early in the dispute process is proven to be more effective at resolving disputes compared with drawn out adversarial and adjudicative processes. Mediation provides a flexible process allowing the parties to fully air their issues and reach a negotiated settlement. If the parties do not agree to mediation or fail to reach a mediated outcome, then an adjudication process follows.
CEDR offers a mediation service for individuals and organisations engaging with the Bonsucro Grievance Mechanism. Individuals and organisations can also choose to seek out the services of another organisation for mediation at their own cost, but this will be operated outside the Bonsucro Grievance Mechanism.
In line with the UNGP on Business and Human Rights Effectiveness Criteria, Bonsucro has identified alternative options available to raise concerns in the Bonsucro Complaints and Grievances Management System – see Bonsucro’s website here.
During this pilot phase, Bonsucro will investigate potential partnerships with other organisations and work towards developing a Grievance Mechanism Support Group and ensure that complainants have access to language support and organisational support from civil society and other groups to help navigate the Bonsucro Grievance Mechanism process and its wider complaints and grievances management system. See the Bonsucro Promoting workers and community voices project for more information.
The public consultation highlighted the role that the Grievance Mechanism could play in educating stakeholders about mitigating environmental and social impacts and ensuring continuous improvement of sugarcane processing, production and sourcing. Bonsucro will carry out webinars at regular intervals and engage other organisations to raise awareness about the Bonsucro Grievance Mechanism and the options included in Bonsucro Complaints and Grievances Management System.
Bonsucro will also keep working with other organisations to ensure that the launch of these options is supported by a capacity building / awareness raising sessions with workers and communities.
The Bonsucro Grievance Mechanism will be regularly adapted and improved as Bonsucro learns from the implementation process.
Each complaint will be given a unique tracking number and Bonsucro will publish the initial scoping decision and the conclusion of the mediation and a statement on the resolution. For more information on the details that will be published by Bonsucro, please visit Section 17 of the Grievance Mechanism Rules.
Bonsucro is working with its members to ensure that best practice guidance and case studies are shared and embedded into members’ approach of responding to environmental and social impacts. The Bonsucro Grievance Mechanism facilitate access to non-judicial remedy in accordance with its Rules.
For the first year of implementation of the Bonsucro Grievance Mechanism, Bonsucro’s contract with CEDR is based on fixed fees for each step in the Grievance Mechanism. For the first financial year (April 2020 –March 2021), Bonsucro has allocated a budget to finance the setup costs and subsidise CEDR’s case handling fees.
A rate card can be provided by CEDR during the initial scoping phase.
With that budget, approximately three complaints can be processed via the Bonsucro Grievance Mechanism.
CEDR will consider available funding when deciding on scoping. For more information on funding, please visit Section 7.1 of the Grievance Mechanism Rules. Bonsucro will also keep working with other organisations to identify alternative sources of funding. See our Bonsucro Promoting workers and community voices project for more information.
In cases where a complaint relates to the actions of a member’s certified operations (i.e. potential non-conformity against the Bonsucro standards), CEDR will send a request for information to the licensed certification body in charge of the audit and certification of the Member. The conditions surrounding certification information sharing and use are covered in section 8 of the Bonsucro Grievance Mechanism Rules.
In cases where a complaint relates to the actions of a member’s certified operations (i.e. potential non-conformity against the Bonsucro standards), CEDR will send a request for information to the licensed certification body in charge of the audit and certification of the member. The conditions surrounding certification information sharing and use are covered in section 8 of the Bonsucro Grievance Mechanism Rules.