The State of Children's Rights and Business 2021

Press release

Global Child Forum

New report from Global Child Forum shows that companies need to understand how their climate commitments impact children

STOCKHOLM, 30 November 2021

Stockholm-based Global Child Forum today announced the results of their report, “The State of Children’s Rights and Business 2021”, showing that companies need to urgently address the implications of their climate actions on children.  Despite a modest improvement in overall scores from 2019, a closer look at company scores within the Community & Environment impact area, reveals that, while many companies have environmental policies, there is weak understanding of the impact of those policies on children.

The flagship study, done in collaboration with Boston Consulting Group (BCG), surveyed 832 of the world’s largest companies and found a slight improvement from the last study in 2019 from  a score 5.2 (2019) to a score of 5.5 in this year’s study – but still a significant distance to the top possible score of 10.

Cajsa Wiking, Secretary General, Global Child Forum, commented:

“With COP26 as a backdrop and the growing demand for climate justice, companies need to understand that all efforts to reduce negative environmental impact need to take human rights into consideration. Most companies have a major opportunity to improve in this area and can use a child rights perspective to achieve this.”

Climate crisis equals child rights crisis

Business has a tremendous impact on the environment and communities in which they operate and, with the added pressure of meeting climate goals that many companies have pledged for in relation to COP26, companies will have to understand the true impact of these actions on children.

Nina Vollmer, Research Manager, Global Child Forum, commented:

“Many companies are relatively good at talking about climate and show what they’re doing in this area, but environmental, climate and social impact are still very much in silos. Children are exposed to multiple different climate shocks, and due to their vulnerability, suffer from the effects of pollution and poor air quality, food insecurity and forced migration due to climate degradation. Children and youth are also showing signs of psychological harm from worrying about the world they will grow up in. By taking children’s needs and perspectives as the starting point for what they do to mitigate their environmental and climate impact, companies have the opportunity to create a truly sustainable strategy for the future of their operations as well as the planet.”

Nordic companies outperform the rest of the world

Europe and North America’s standing in the benchmark reflects a comparative maturity in these regions when it comes to understanding their sustainability impact and human rights responsibilities.

Zooming in on the Nordic Region, the report shows that Finland and Norway are leading, while Danish companies are lagging behind their Nordic peers. The top five scoring companies in the Nordics includes a breadth of different industries demonstrating that considering children’s rights is not only for the consumer-facing sector.

Norsk Hydro, Volvo and Neste are all high scoring companies and they show a clear commitment to children by integrating a children’s rights perspective into their operations.

Åsne Burgess, Social Responsibility Manager, Group Sustainability, Norsk Hydro, commented:

“We strongly believe in creating a better future for children and young people. Global Child Forum’s benchmark has provided important insight into how we can improve our business practices to better support and safeguard children and young people. With the help of the benchmark and with Global Child Forum’s expertise, we’ve built a program for child rights. Through actions for improvement and a governance system to drive the actions, we aim to create more awareness in the organization and strengthen our efforts to support children’s rights. Working with children’s rights is an iterative process as there is always new ways to improve, which the benchmark helps illuminate.”

Please find a summary with 10 key findings here and the Nordic Spotlight report benchmarking Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland. Attached press pictures to be credited to Global Child Forum.

About Global Child Forum

Founded in 2009 by the Swedish Royal Family, Global Child Forum is a leading forum for children’s rights and business dedicated to innovative thinking, knowledge-sharing and networking. Global Child Forum believes in the power and responsibility of business, working in partnership with all parts of society, to create a prosperous, sustainable and just society for the world’s children. In addition to forums, Global Child Forum delivers research perspectives, best practices and risk assessment tools designed to unlock opportunities for business to integrate children’s rights into their operations and communities.

For more information, please visit:

For further information, please contact:

Linda Ravin Lodding, Head of Communications,
Global Child Forum
+ 46 72 387 0248

Note to Editors

For nearly ten years, Global Child Forum has been benchmarking companies. This year the benchmark report tracks 832 of the world’s largest companies by revenue across nine industries and six geographic regions. We have chosen these companies as they are considered to be the most influential in helping us reach the Sustainable Development Goals. Companies are given an overall weighted scored based on their performance on three issue categories:

  • Workplace: Policies and reporting around working conditions
  • Marketplace: Policies and programs related to protecting children as consumers
  • Community & Environment: Policies and reporting around company impact on the community and environment, and how this affects children as a distinct stakeholder group

Global Child Forum basis it’s benchmark scores on a company’s publicly available information, systematically assessing a corporate’s response to impacts on children’s rights. Scores are not a  measure of actual company compliance with policies, outcomes of policies and/or programs. Final scorecards were made available to all companies for fact checking purposes, but not all companies have acknowledged this review process.

The State of Children's Rights and Business 2021

To the Report