Climate change: a growing concern for all
Climate change and the environment came out top, as the issue both adults and children were equally troubled about (76% of children and 72% of adults). Incidentally, environmental protection was highlighted as a priority concern for the extractive industries with most adults seeing this as a number one issue for the oil and gas sector, while 27% identified it for mining.
This is unsurprising given that the combustion of oil and coal, to take two examples, causes the release of nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere, which has a devastating impact on trees, plants and biodiversity.
Companies still need to prioritise child labour
Out of ten child-focussed business actions we offered our adult respondents, ‘taking action to eliminate and remedy child labour’ was ranked first. Similarly, children also shared strong views about companies needing to tackle child labour, with 62% expressing they were ‘very concerned’ about ‘children working when they should be at school.’
Child labour was also highlighted as the number one priority for the agriculture, apparel, and mining industries. In June 2019, the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization noted that over 108 million boys and girls between 5 and 17 years work in the agricultural sector, making it the industry with the highest incidence of child labourers. Clearly, our respondents are informed and concerned.
However, like many other human rights issues that businesses affect, child labour is a complex, societal challenge, that can be viewed as a consequence of underlying, systemic problems.
While many companies have, and continue to take steps to eradicate child labour, sometimes in partnership with other industry peers, a business-to-business response will not fix the problem. Like all complex issues, child labour requires a comprehensive and holistic approach, one that brings together governments, civil society organisations and other key relevant actors, in concert with business.