Global Child Forum participated at the CSR Asia Summit in Bangkok bringing a children’s rights perspective to one of the largest CSR events in the region. The break-out session on “Children’s rights: the risk to business” organized by Global Child Forum at the CSR Asia Summit 2017 in Bangkok on 27 September, drew a large audience of both corporate representatives and civil society organizations, with an interest in how business can understand their impact on children’s rights, mitigate their risks and unlock new opportunities to respect, protect and promote children’s rights as an integrated part of how they operate.
The session started with an introduction to business’ impact and action on children’s rights, where Fiona Rotberg, Research Director at Global Child Forum and Wivina Belmonte, Deputy Regional Director, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific, made the business case that integrating respect and support for children’s rights entails real benefits for business such as building a positive brand reputation, improving risk management; gaining improved access to skilled labour, increasing employee satisfaction, and securing companies’ social license to operate. The flipside of this equation are the risks inherent in ignoring children’s rights, which can have grave consequences for a company’s reputation and bottom line.
“Virtually all companies interact with children in some way. Sometimes directly; sometimes not. Sometimes to the benefit of children; sometimes not. We see each of these interactions as an opportunity for business to advance children’s rights and wellbeing.”
As an example of a practical tool that companies can use to assess their risk exposure when it comes to children’s rights, Martin Hallberg from Global Child Forum introduced the Children’s Rights and Business Atlas. The Atlas is a free online data-driven platform, based on the Children’s Rights and Business Principles, for business to analyze the level of protection for children’s rights all over the world; highlight where they run the greatest risk of having a negative impact; and identify opportunities for having a positive impact. From the audience, Dr Pipat Yodprudtikan from the Thaipat Institute, explained how they have used the Atlas to assess how their member companies impact children’s rights and identified prioritized areas for action for each of them.
In a high-level corporate panel, representatives from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil – RSPO, AccorHotels and the telecommunications company dtac all shared their experience of implementing policies and acting to change how their core business affect children.
Christophe Lejeune explained how AccorHotels have implemented KPI’s on child protection for their hotel managers to foment the company policy on protecting children against sexual exploitation. On-Uma V. Rerkpattanapipat told the audience how dtac has taken a holistic approach to children’s rights and not only put in place a programme to combat online bullying, but also have a policy to prevent child labour in their supply chain: for example, in making sure that no children work in the maintenance of their infrastructure or distributing their products. RSPO gave an insight into how they through both a regulatory framework and programmes to promote children’s rights, work with their members to protect children that live on the palm oil plantations with their families and subsequently run the risk of participating in hazardous work and missing out on school.
All of these examples serve to showcase that when companies take a child rights perspective in their operations, their own sustainability agenda strengthens.
For more information and presentations from the session, click here.