World of Work Summit

Nobel Peace Laureate warns climate change is fueling child trafficking

Kailash Satyarthi calls for immediate action on climate change and a child-friendly approach to disaster management, at a special sitting of the International Labour Conference.

News | 11 June 2015
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Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi
GENEVA (ILO News) – Climate change is creating conditions that fuel child labour, child trafficking and forced labour, the Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi has told delegates at a special sitting of the World of Work Summit, organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Geneva.

Speaking of an “ecological emergency that requires immediate attention,” Mr. Satyarthi warned that the loss of livelihoods and migration to urban areas that follows both natural disasters and changes in weather patterns can lead directly to increased child trafficking. He cited the April 2015 earthquake in Nepal and the Kosi floods in Bihar, India, in 2008, as places where he had seen these conditions.

He called on governments to adopt a child-friendly approach towards disaster management.

Mr. Satyarthi told delegates that while the numbers in child labour had fallen, to about 168 million, child trafficking and slavery was not decreasing. “We cannot ignore this,” he said. “We have to respond.”

Mr. Satyarthi called on delegates to be bold and show leadership. "I refuse to accept that we together cannot end child labour in this generation," he said. In particular he highlighted two areas for action.

First, he said we must learn from the “ground realities” – what works and does not work – and scale up steps to get children out of child labour and into education.

Second, he urged every country to ratify and implement the Forced Labour Protocol (PO.29) that was adopted at the 2014 ILC.

Mr. Satyarthi also said that the abolition of slavery, and in particular child slavery should be specifically included in the international development agenda and in the Sustainable Development Goals that are expected to be agreed by United Nations members later this year.

Mr. Satyarthi was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, for his work against child labour and in promoting the right to education.

The World of Work Summit was called to discuss the implications of climate change for workers, enterprises and communities. It took place during the 2015 International Labour Conference, the annual meeting of the ILO’s membership, which is being attended by more than 4,500 delegates from 169 countries.