The 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour is set to take place in Durban, South Africa on 15-20 May. The European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, will highlight the EU’s contribution to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goal of ending all forms of child labour by 2025. In addition, a side event organised by the European Commission will take a deep dive into the EU’s actions to end child labour and support sustainable value chains.
- the EU's international role | international cooperation
Child labour remains a persistent problem. According to the latest estimates, 160 million children are currently victims of child labour, with millions more at risk due to the impacts of COVID-19. In this context, the Durban conference will be a valuable opportunity toassess progress made towards ending child labour, discuss good practices, and identify challenges, gaps and urgent measures needed to accelerate international efforts.
At the first of two high-level panel discussions, which will be held at 12.30-14.00 on 16 May and deal with Setting Global Priorities, Commissioner Urpilainen will talk about how the EU has been addressing the issue through various policies and programmes that directly and indirectly help reduce and prevent child labour. These programmes are implemented in various areas, such as child protection, inclusive and quality education and training, decent work, labour rights promotion, and others. In addition, Cecile Billaux, Head of INTPA’s Micro-economic Analysis, Investment Climate, Private Sector, Trade and Employment Unit, will participate in a panel discussion on Financing the elimination of child labour at 14.45-16.30 on 18 May.
Some examples of EU-funded projects include CLEAR Cotton, which is working to eliminate child labour and forced labour in cotton, textile and garment value chains, and TACKLE - which tackled child labour through education. Other EU funded initiatives include Ship to Shore Rights, which promotes safe migration and decent work for migrant workers in fishing and seafood processing; and the Trade for Decent Work project.
More recently, EU support is oriented towards global supply chains where child labour is prevalent and with a significant volume of exports to the EU. This topic will be the focus of a side event at the global conference on the European Union’s actions to end child labour and support sustainable value chains, at 16.45-17.45 on 18 May. This side event, on line and in-presence, will introduce new EU actions and speakers from various grounds will share knowledge and good practices addressing the root causes, gaps and challenges on child labour in key value chain sectors. The event will aim to advocate for integrated and tailored solutions with various public and private partners to bring about positive change.
The side event will also present the results of EU projects in selected value chains and planned interventions in value chains linked to EU markets. It will also introduce the proposed EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence legislation, which aims to foster sustainable and responsible corporate behaviour throughout global value chains, including with regard to child labour and the exploitation of workers.
Another side event at the conference, organised by the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion, will examine how a comprehensive decent work agenda can contribute to the elimination of child labour worldwide.
With only three years to go before the 2025 deadline for ending all forms of child labour, the Durban conference will be an important occasion to take stock of what has been achieved and to establish priorities for the coming three years. The Conference sessions will be livestreamed with interpretation in EN, FR and ES, so make sure to take part in this important discussion.