Tackling Child Labour 

In the latest The Business of Risk episode host Elaine Mitchell-Hill (Chair of the Social Responsibility Alliance) talks to Katherine Torres (Senior Programme Officer of Supply Chains at the International Labour Organisation) and Benafsha Delgado (Head of Social Sustainability at UN Global Compact Network UK) about tackling the problem of child labor.  

The three start by discussing the challenges to addressing child labour. Katherine details that covid has greatly exasperated the problem, with 9 million more children being involved in child labour because of the pandemic. She then goes on to say that the greatest prevalence of child labour exists in the lower tiers of the supply chain; far from the centre of the business, often in informal and rural settings, which presents a major challenge to resolving the issue. Benafsha adds that in her work in the Democratic Republic of Congo the economic and political context made dismantling child labour difficult. Where families could not pay education costs or educational services were absent, sending children to work was the main option.  

Elaine goes on to ask the pair about the intersection between developing a greener economy and tackling child labour. Benafsha argues that the increasing pressure on companies to become greener could divert attention and resources towards climate goals at the expense of human rights because progress can be more easily demonstrated. She and Katherine detail the need for a ‘just transition’ to a green economy which is intrinsically linked to child’s rights. A just transition must invest in vulnerable groups such as women and ensure they can find good jobs in greener sectors, which would reduce the risk of child labor in the long term. Migrant workers the rights of indigenous peoples are also central to a just transition to a green economy.  

Katherine highlights the challenge of measuring and communicating data about child labour in a meaningful way. While much work has been done in collecting accurate data, more can be achieved through making sure this information is analysed and communicated to businesses in a usable way.  

Elaine finished the interview by looking forward and asking what needs to be done to encourages business to engage with the problem of child labour. Katherine highlights that more needs to be done to level the playing field so all sectors and businesses have the same obligations and repercussions for use of child labour. She also added a need to foster safe space for business to share information and work on solutions. Benafsha closes by detailing the need for:

Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration is key. We cannot expect one individual organisation, whether their company, whether they’re government, whether they’re an NGO, to tackle these issues, we need to come together collectively, as a community engagement, the right people and strengthen that transparency in the supply chain

Benafsha Delgado

Tune in to Episode 4 of The Business of Risk for a practical and comprehensive discussion on tackling child labour.  

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