Volkert Engelsman

Eosta's Volkert Engelsman

An influential think-tank in the Netherlands is petitioning the Dutch government to expand the laws on Duty of Care to obligate directors to report on their companies’ social and environmental impact.

Volkert Engelsman, CEO of Dutch organics specialist Eosta, has signed the think-tank’s petition, including a proposed law change written by professor Jaap Winter and supported by 25 professors of Corporate Law.

According to the think-tank, the lack of incentive for large companies to behave responsibly is contributing to many of the world’s social and environmental problems and preventing change.

“Liberalisation of the capital markets and emphasis on shareholder value are having detrimental effects on society,” Eosta stated. “They give large companies no incentive to behave responsibly; rather the opposite.”

A letter from Dutch leaders in the field of Corporate Social Responsibility has been sent to the (to-be-formed) Dutch government, advocating the introduction of responsible corporate citizenship in the statutory duties of executive and supervisory directors.

The letter was written by Maria van der Heijden (CSR Netherlands), professor Winter, author Jeroen Smit, economist Jolande Sap, and was signed by Engelsman and other thought leaders from the field of sustainability and governance.

An opinion piece was also published in Dutch daily NRC about the issue, penned by Smit. 'It's high time to declare that, by law, a CEO should also be a humanitarian,' the author observed. 'Because nobody can be successful in a world that fails.'

Since the Principle of Care is one of the fundamentals of organic agriculture as defined by international organic umbrella organisation IFOAM, Eosta said it made sense for the company to join the petition.

Engelsman commented: 'The corona crisis provokes some serious questions: how can we leave a liveable world to our children and grandchildren? As long as companies are driven by an outdated definition of profit, they can't. What the world needs is companies who contribute to solutions instead of increasing problems. That is why we insist on laying down in law that executive and supervisory directors must account for social and ecological impact.'