(Nairobi, 12 May 2014) –The Children’s Rights and Business Principles marked two years of calling on businesses everywhere to respect and support children’s rights in the workplace, marketplace, community and environment. Since their 2012 release, the Principles have dramatically raised awareness of children and youth as critical stakeholders of business.
Held in Nairobi, the initiative’s Second Global Event took stock of achievements and showcased how companies, globally and regionally, have used the Principles to advance efforts to respect and support children’s rights, and identified areas for improvement. Attended by 150 representatives from business, Government, academia and civil society, and moderated by Eric Latiff, Senior Editor at Capital FM and Anchor at the Kenya Television Network, the event placed a special focus on child rights and business in Africa – highlighting key challenges for achieving children’s rights in Africa, and the role of business and sustainability in the region.
In her opening remarks, Betty Maina, Representative of the Global Compact Network Kenya and Chief Executive of Kenya Association of Manufacturers, recognized the important role business plays in the lives of children: “Businesses affect children and their rights globally and not least in Africa.” She noted that while Sub-Saharan Africa has made some improvements towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as a region it is lagging behind, with high rates of hunger, moderate enrollment in primary schools and high mortality rates among children under five years of age. She added, “As economic development continues, often driven by the private sector, it is necessary for companies to see the long-term need and business case for respecting and supporting children’s rights.”
Developed by UNICEF, the UN Global Compact and Save the Children – the Children’s Rights and Business Principles identify a comprehensive range of actions that all businesses should take to prevent and address adverse impacts connected with their activities and relationships, and maximize positive business impacts on children’s lives. More than 30 countries around the world, including seven in Africa, have organized national releases of the Principles. Country-level efforts have helped to address the root causes of child labour, and contextualize other critical issues for companies, such as decent work for young workers, parents and caregivers; development of safe products and services; responsible marketing and advertising; environment and land acquisition; and supporting children’s rights in security arrangements.
“Respecting and supporting the rights of children is sound business practice,” said Ursula Wynhoven, General Counsel and Chief of Governance and Social Sustainability at the UN Global Compact. “By incorporating children’s rights into strategy, operations and corporate culture, businesses not only strengthen their reputation and brand recognition; they also create healthy, strong communities as well as more sustainable and inclusive markets.”
Recognizing the positive power of businesses large and small, and seeking to support responsible business practices, the organizing partners developed a questionnaire to learn more about progress made by the business community in implementing the Principles and to gather illustrative examples of good practices.