Building Dignity with the Institute for Human Rights & Business

For the past three years, the Institute for Human Rights & Business (IHRB) has been working with the municipality of Bergen on the redevelopment of a teachers' college building into an inclusion centre for newly arrived immigrants and refugees in the city.  This initiative involved refurbishment, demolition and new construction processes. 

By involving future users and workers, the reuse and recycling of materials took on another dimension. Some of the social workers that will be working at Bergen’s inclusion centre were trained and educated at the old teachers' college, and for them, conserving and reusing the existing wood panels was important to keep the legacy and the history of the building.

The city has now strengthened its procurement template to include human rights due diligence provisions: introducing requirements for responsible business practice in the contract with the turnkey contractor. It is also considering applying the Dignity by Design approach to a large-scale re-development of the Dokken port area.

The practical insights and lessons from the pilot in Bergen have been important in illustrating the opportunity of partnering as a Building Dignity pilot both in terms of the process of the initiative itself as well as its influence on wider city and industry practices. 

The pilot is also gaining recognition beyond Bergen. It has been recognised by Design and Architecture Norway (DOGA), the Nordic Smart City Network and Nordic Edge as a best practice example and included in the roadmap for smart and sustainable cities and communities in Norway.

IHRB’s mission is to shape policy and strengthen accountability in order to make respect for human rights part of everyday business. Its work provides a vision for dignity and respect for human rights throughout the built environment lifecycle. 

Laudes Foundation has a similar mission to achieve an inclusive and regenerative urban built environment. We work with IHRB to bridge climate action and social equity; driving forward action through demonstration projects, policy change and industry and investor engagement.

For detailed information, see the promotional video.