The global community have made strides in eliminating child labour but there is still a significant amount of work to do. Between 2000 and 2016, there was a 38% decrease in child labour globally. However, there are still 152 million children across the world who are in child labour. The goal remains to end child labour by 2025 and end forced labour, human trafficking, and modern slavery by 2030. Ethical Partners aim to use our investor voice throughout 2021 to help bring awareness of this important issue to ASX listed companies.
152 million children around the globe work because their survival depends on it. It may be because their parents don’t have access to work or because national education and social protection systems are weak. Sometimes it is a result of ingrained customs or even because adults take advantage of children’s vulnerability. Child labour robs children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity. For 1 in 10 children, this is a daily reality.
In order to promote the ending of child labour in ASX companies and contribute to wider corporate and societal advocacy about the issue, Ethical Partners Funds Management will research and engage with key organisations by the end of 2021. We expect to learn the state of understanding and action on child labour in ASX companies, and to demonstrate best practices with the intent of thus influencing ASX listed companies to address these risks.
While there is a slowly improving understanding and disclosure from companies around modern slavery, human rights risks and their supply chain, we believe that there is a real need to bring child labour and child rights to the forefront of this discussion. Australian companies need to look more deeply at their supply chains to firstly, understand the key child rights issues and secondly, review, disclose and then remediate any child labour identified in their supply chain.
We do acknowledge that the complexity of supply chains, particularly in the fashion and agriculture supply chains, where the majority of child exploitation occurs. Tackling child labour is further complicated by the fact it is a symptom of larger problems. Where there is extreme poverty, there are children willing to work cheaply.
Our ultimate aim is to draw attention to this issue across the ASX and that ASX companies will be spurred on through this transparency, and our engagement and advocacy to change their processes and procedure to benefit the lives of more children.
Ethical Partners are pleased to see Australia take the next steps to implement mandatory climate reporting with the release of draft climate standards, which we provided feedback on.
Ethical Partners have continuously called for the provision of high quality, comparable data on company’s climate governance and carbon metrics, which we believe is imperative for investors to fulfil the potential of responsible investment.
Ethical Partners have been proud to have been active supporters of the TNFD Forum over the past few years, and to provide regular feedback on the development of the official TNFD recommendations, which were launched in December, as well as to be active members of the RIAA Natural Capital Working Group.