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Report on Brazil: Human rights shows positive development

The Danish Institute of Human Rights considers that Hydro's efforts in Brazil have been generally good, but highlights the need for specific actions at the operational level.

The Danish Human Rights Institute recently assisted Hydro in providing a human rights perspective in the company's operations in Pará.

The assessment reveals that Hydro's efforts in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) have led to a series of improvements that strengthen the company's ability to respond adequately to human rights issues. However, there is a need for more specific vision and initiatives on how to implement the company's human rights policy at the operational level.

Alberto Fabrini “We agree with the general conclusions and work continuously to raise our standards”, said the director of Bauxita & Alumina, executive vice president Alberto Fabrini.

The report was prepared as part of a broader CSR assessment in which the focus was primarily on human rights possibly at risk in Brazil. On average, four to six people from each stakeholder group were interviewed: employees, managers, public authorities and local communities.

“Hydro has taken on complex challenges in Brazil and we are pleased to see that they focus on human rights to solve these challenges,” said Allan Lerberg Joergensen, Human Rights and Development rights at the Institute.

The Institute states in its report that “CSR strategies are understood to a certain extent by most of the functional staff of Hydro's operations in Brazil. When the assessment was being made, we can see a series of improvements in the internal coordination and structure of CSR initiatives. These improvements have allowed CSR units in different facilities to receive more support to better plan and measure the impact on different projects and initiatives. ”

The assessment reveals, however, that there is a need for more specific vision and initiatives on human rights policy at the operational level.

“Nowadays, Hydro Brasil's management understands its human rights policy as a policy of refraining from a negative impact in the area of human rights involving, for example, employees and communities. In addition to committing to communicate such a better vision, management should also promote CSR initiatives that are more focused on promoting positive contributions to the enjoyment of human rights. This vision would include clarifying which efforts address the impacts caused by Hydro and which focus on the development of communities and their support, in addition to only refraining from causing a direct negative impact.

Hydro has also established a complaints mechanism to receive and deal with complaints and suggestions from communities affected by its operations. The report states that the company "should strive to further ensure the trust and support needed for the complaints mechanism".

Furthermore, the evaluation process indicated that there are potential challenges with regard to work standards for outsourced workers in Brazil. The Institute recommends that Hydro “implement a training program for third parties and / or include standard work modules in its HSEQ courses and in conversations with employees.”

“We are aware that contractors must work under the same standards and working conditions as our fixed employees and we have already taken steps to make this happen,” said Fabrini.

The assessment also reveals that there are areas in which Hydro could act more strategically with the community, in order to promote greater engagement and dialogue.

“Hydro Brasil should consult and dialogue more frequently with neighboring communities (Vila Nova, Itupanema and Vila do Conde) with the main objective of informing communities about their CSR initiatives, of listening to the communities' perspective on needs and preferences and learn more about the existing impact. ”

"We recognize that it is important to maintain a relationship with the communities and we have already started several initiatives to improve local engagement in Barcarena and with the quilombola communities along the bauxite pipeline," said Fabrini.

As director of operations in Brazil, Fabrini stresses that several of the additional proposals have already been implemented in recent months, for example in terms of safety, the fact that both fixed and outsourced employees receive the same protective equipment and basic training.

“We are working hard to improve our standards and we believe we are ahead in some areas. Still, we can improve and the report illustrates some very interesting areas to work on. ”

“I'm very pleased with the report,” said Hydro's corporate CSR director, executive vice president Anne-Lene Midseim. "Although the Institute has pointed out some areas that can be improved, the general conclusion is that we are doing a good job with human rights in Brazil and several of the weaknesses highlighted in the report have either been addressed or are in progress".

Midseim adds that “at the corporate level, Hydro works continuously to improve the system of prior human rights audits, ensuring that issues related to human rights are addressed throughout the business cycle.”

The report is a joint publication by the Danish Human Rights Institute and Hydro. To read the full report, click here.

For more information about the Danish Human Rights Institute, visit http://www.humanrights.dk/ .

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