Salient human rights issues

Focus on salient human rights issues

We have identified our salient human rights issues, i.e., human rights that stand out because they are at risk of the most severe negative impact through our activities or business relationships, in collaboration with an external expert.  We regularly analyse the saliency of our human rights impacts based on severity and likelihood, recognising that our impacts on people continue to evolve as our business changes and our approach to due diligence develops. Severity is determined by considering the scope (number of people affected), scale (seriousness of the impact) and irremediability (ease of setting things right) of the impact.

We have identified environmental pollution, occupational health and safety (OHS), working conditions, protection of children, and forced labour to be UPM’s salient human rights issues. We plan to review our salient issues in 2023, taking into account the evolving nature or our businesses and operating environments. In assessing human rights, the rights of vulnerable groups, including children, minorities, migrant workers and indigenous people, are specifically taken into account.  

Knowing our environmental impacts

The right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment is a human right. Companies are expected to comply with all applicable environmental laws; make clear policy commitments to meet their responsibility to respect human rights through environmental protection; implement due diligence to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address their environmental impacts on human rights; and enable the remediation of any adverse human rights impacts they cause or contribute to through their impact on the environment.

All UPM operations have direct and indirect impacts on the environment. Forest management inevitably affects the landscape, forest structure and biodiversity. Our production processes generate effluents and air emissions. Our production units also generate solid waste, noise and odor that needs to be managed. The indirect impacts of our business mainly arise from transportation and the procurement of raw materials, chemicals, fuels and power.

We have ambitious targets to reduce the environmental footprint of our operations and products throughout the entire value chain - from raw material sourcing, production, delivery and product use to the recycling and reuse of products. Both the direct and indirect environmental loads and impacts of our operations are measured and assessed continuously.

We are committed to transparency regarding the environmental impacts of our operations. Our goal is to continuously improve our environmental performance by setting ambitious long-term targets and by applying certified management systems in our operations. We also challenge our suppliers to be innovative and actively contribute to achieving our targets.

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Safe and healthy working environment
is a top priority for us

Ensuring the right to a safe and healthy working environment is one of the top priorities of our social responsibility agenda. Our commitment to safety applies to all our employees, visitors, contractors, and all people impacted by our operations.

Safety is integrated in our operations, organisational culture and management systems. The same safety requirements are applied to all employees, visitors and contractors working at our premises. We have a corporate wide safety management system in place complemented by safety standards and global safety reporting.

Strict safety requirements are applied to contractors working at our premises. They receive comprehensive safety induction before entering the site to perform their work. Contractor safety is also one of the focus areas identified in our human rights saliency assessments.

We want to ensure that the working conditions in our suppliers’ own premises are also safe. Occupational safety is one of the focus areas in almost every supplier audit we undertake, particularly in high-risk countries.


Strong commitment to decent work
and working conditions

We are committed to promoting decent working conditions and fair employment in our own operations and across our value chain. These are an integral part of our corporate responsibility and defined by our values and the Code of Conduct. Our global Human Resources Rules, applicable to our own employees, complement the Code of Conduct by defining in more detail the principles of working conditions, labor practices and decent work as described by the International Labor Organization (ILO). We are committed to full compliance with applicable international, national and local laws and regulations, and respect international agreements concerning human and labour rights and freedom of association.

With regard to contractors and suppliers, our Supplier and Third-Party Code defines the minimum requirements and criteria related to respect for people and human rights. Performance against these criteria is also the basis for our supplier audits and contractor reviews.

Our work in our supply chain focuses on identifying high risk suppliers, highlighting topics such as fair terms and conditions of work, forced labour and modern slavery, environmental impacts and land use. We also use EcoVadis and other supplier assessments and joint development platforms for carrying out more detailed evaluations of suppliers‘ activities. Our contractor reviews focus on assessing the working conditions and safety of contractors’ employees.

Contractors have a significant role in our activities, for example in maintenance, in construction sites and in forestry operations. Promoting decent work and preventing any form of labour exploitation involving our contractors is particularly relevant in our strategic investment projects. We have initiated a project to strengthen our approach to human rights due diligence and social and environmental impacts assessments required in investment and business development projects.  

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Respecting and supporting children’s
rights in our global supply chains

We respect children’s rights and have a zero tolerance to the use of child labor. Our Code of Conduct and the complementing policies are in place to ensure that our businesses do not employ anyone under the legal working age. Due to strict legal compliance and robust company policies, processes and practices, we don’t see child labor and/or exploitative or harmful employment of young workers as a risk in our own operations.

We continuously engage with our suppliers to identify and mitigate risks related to the use of child labour. Should we identify any issues, a remediation plan will be immediately adopted.

We do not use or tolerate use
of forced labor in any form

The latest Global Estimates of Modern Slavery indicates that 50 million people were living in conditions of modern slavery in 2021. There is now much greater awareness of the number of people affected, as well as increased scrutiny from civil society and legislative action from governments. As a result, there is a growing momentum to address modern slavery risks throughout the value chains of businesses.

We do not use or tolerate the use of forced labor in any form in our own operations, or in our supply chains. We have identified forced labor as a salient human rights risk in some of our contracted services and global supply chains, and also recognise migrants a particularly vulnerable group of workers.    

Zero tolerance of forced labour is one the fundamental principles of our Supplier and Third-Party Code. We prioritise our actions by focusing our audits on high-risk countries and contexts and continuously assessing and co-operating with our suppliers.