FAO pledges intensified action to end child labour in agriculture

21 January 2021, Rome/Geneva – The Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), QU Dongyu, today pledged to intensify efforts towards addressing child labour in agriculture through a dedicated work programme within FAO’s Strategic Framework.

”This year, we will step-up our efforts to strengthen the capacities of a wide range of agricultural actors to include child labour prevention and youth employment in their work,” the Director-General stressed during the virtual event launch of the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour 2021 organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO).

“Policies, programmes, and investments related to agri-food systems need to address the root causes of child labour, including household poverty,” he added, as the global COVID-19 pandemic also places more pressure on poor and vulnerable families. The Director-General highlighted that “we need a breakthrough in agriculture where child labour is frequently found”.

This year, FAO will organize a series of regional consultations, and a global event on Child Labour in Agriculture will be held in November to increase awareness and promote good practices, the Director-General said, while noting the outcomes from that event would make a significant contribution to the Fifth Global Conference on Child Labour in 2022.

Qu also emphasized that FAO would continue to play a central role in the International Partnership for Cooperation on Child Labour in Agriculture, which was established by FAO and the ILO with other organizations in 2007.

The Director-General of the ILO, Guy Ryder, opened today’s event noting there were 100 million fewer children in labour now than at the turn of the century while calling for greater commitments to wipe out child labour which he said often occurred in situations of conflict and fragility.

UNICEF’s Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, indicated child labour had been exacerbated by rising poverty, weak protection laws and cultural practices in some countries even before the COVID-19 pandemic worsened the plight of vulnerable families.

Representatives of governments, worker and employer organizations, international organizations and civil society outlined how they intended to eradicate child labour by 2025.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Kailash Satyarthi, and Amar Lal, a human rights lawyer and child labour survivor, also addressed the launch event.

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