How can business, regardless of sector and position, seize the opportunities to contribute to a better world for our children and young people by “investing in every child”? What does it mean to be a responsible company in today’s competitive environment? How can companies find solutions that balance their long-term profitability while balancing their ESG (environmental, social and governance) responsibilities? These questions provided a fruitful discussion at the Global Child Forum’s annual Partner Advisory Board meeting (PAB), held on 15 November 2017.
“This is where real change takes place”
This half-day meeting was opened with remarks from Global Child Forum’s Honorary Chairman, H.M. King Carl Gustaf:
“Basing our decisions on solid facts has always been important. But today, in a time of information overload, I believe it is more critical than ever. It is really quite simple: The better we know, the better we can do. Therefore, I am especially proud of Global Child Forum’s efforts to collect and share knowledge and best practices concerning children’s rights.” Read the King’s full remarks here.
The morning’s meeting gathered the organization’s business and knowledge partners and focused on what different sectors can learn from each other. Crown Princess Victoria, a UN Sustainable Development Globals Advocate, was the first speaker of the meeting. In her speech, the Crown Princess emphasised how all of the 17 global goals committed by the world leaders concern children’s rights:
“The most important thing to understand about the Global Goals is that they are not really a list of targets. But rather a network or a system. The only way to successfully achieve one goal is by working on the others as well. They cannot be ticked off one by one. Instead, they are all interlinked… They are all – directly or indirectly – children’s rights. And none of them can be achieved without the active participation of the private sector […] Companies operate globally and locally. They are employers, investors and suppliers. They have a significant presence in their local communities and in people’s everyday lives. And as we all know, that is where real change takes place.” Read Crown Princess Victoria’s full remarks here.
Following the opening remarks, Mats Granryd, Director General of GSMA brought forward examples of the mobile industry’s support for children’s rights through on-the-ground initiatives that are making a real difference in the lives of children around the world such as in child online protection, birth registration, financial inclusion, refugee assistance and education.
Anders Bouvin, Group CEO of Handelsbanken, shared his thoughts on how the financial sector can address challenges to children’s rights. He discussed Handelsbanken’s approach to sustainability and illustrated how the bank’s commitment to children’s rights has translated into a growing range of collaborations at the local, regional and national level.
UN Global Compact’s Senior Manager, Anita Househam, emphasised that influencing supply chain practices is the biggest challenge to improving sustainability performance – 80% of global trade passes through supply chains. She commented that companies that respect human rights in their supply chain can generate large-scale impact.
Peder Michael Pruzan-Jorgensen, Senior Vice-President for Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), focussed on the often over-looked intersection of child, family and workplace saying that no long-term solution is possible without connecting the three.
Gary Stahl, Director of the UNICEF Division of Private Fundraising and Partnerships (PFP), highlighted UNICEF’s recently signed Memorandum of Understanding, reinforcing the two organizations’ continued collaboration working to promote the rights and well-being of every child saying:
“We are happy to have a continued close cooperation with the Global Child Forum to keep inspiring and challenge businesses to support children’s rights. Together, we can reach and influence more businesses, governments and civil society actors in the best interest of children.”
The conversations also touched the importance of raising questions about the children’s rights and the global goals from being a matter of philanthropy to becoming part of the core values of the companies. The meeting concluded with a presentation of upcoming forums and projects, as well as a presentation of the further development of Children’s Rights and Business Atlas, a web-based tool developed by the Global Child Forum together with UNICEF, which helps companies to become aware of, among other things, the risk factors that exist regarding children’s rights in different industries.
H.M. Queen Silvia concluded the meeting by referencing the organization’s beginnings and praising Ulf Karlberg, the out-going Chairman of the Partner Advisory Board:
“We opened the palace for the first seminar in Stockholm. Together with Crown Princess Victoria and Princess Madeleine, we received five hundred guests: politicians, media, industry, humanitarian organizations, the children’s ombudsman et cetera. They could not stop discussing the most important issue: children’s rights. It was wonderful to see.”
She also commended the Global Child Forum partners and supporters in her final remarks saying:
“Dear friends of Global Child Forum, You have all been wonderful. You understood how important you and your enterprises are, to help change children’s situation in the world! You have been generous sharing your knowledge with us and generous by supporting Global Child Forum financially the way you did!” Read the Queen’s full remarks here.