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  • Writer's pictureAlice Harada

C20 Summit 2020: Model Case Studies for CSO-Business-Government Collaboration

On Friday October 9th, ACE held a panel session for the C20 Summit 2020 on, “Promoting CSO-Business-Government Collaboration in the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour towards the Achievement of SDG 8.7”. Each experienced panellist brought to the table an innovative case study of collaboration from the three sectors, and from four corners of the globe.

The C20 Summit 2020 was held in Saudi Arabia last month between October 6th-10th. The annual summit provides a valuable opportunity for hundreds of CSOs to gather and discuss important global themes including the economy, environment, education, employment, and gender. During the five-day Summit, 65 breakout sessions were held by CSOs and around 40,000 people participated from 118 countries. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was conducted virtually.

The significance of CSO-Business-Government Collaboration cannot be overstated.

Deadlines are fast approaching for the achievement of SDG commitments made by state leaders at the United Nations General Assembly back in 2015. This includes Goal 8, Target 7: the elimination of all forms of child labour by 2025, and the eradication of forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking by 2030. However, the latest ILO data (2017) indicates 152 million children (one out of ten children), are still engaged in child labour, including 2 million in developed nations. Of the total, 73 million children are involved in hazardous forms of work. Victims of modern slavery are estimated to be 40.3 million, and of these, 24.9 million people are in forced labour. To reach these targets, both developing and developed countries must take immediate action.

The significance of collaboration between CSOs (working in the field), governments (formulating and implementing policies), and business (employing workers) cannot be overstated. Our session aimed to provide model cases of collaboration and discuss how to accelerate efforts to achieve SDG 8.7 through cross-sector partnerships in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also served to share effective actions and shape strategies for the upcoming UN International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour (2021).

Speakers and Panellists

Keynote speaker

Mr. Kailash Satyarthi (India)

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Founder of the Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation


- Ms. Anousheh Karvar (France) -

Chair of Alliance 8.7, French Government Representative to the International Labour

Organisation and Senior Task Officer to the G7 and G20 Labour and Employment


- Ms. Lisa Singh (Australia) -

Head of Government Advocacy, Walk Free Foundation

- Mr. Andrews Addoquaye Tagoe (Ghana) -

Head of Rural Workers’ Organisation Programme at the General Agricultural Workers

Union of the Ghana Trades Union Congress, Board member of Global March against

Child Labour

- Ms. Yuka Iwatsuki (Japan) -


- Ms. Masako Ota (Japan) -

Chief of Advocacy, Action against Child Exploitation

The keynote speech was made live by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi, who, along with colleagues, has rescued more than 91,000 children from child labour and bonded labour over the last 40 years. Anousheh Karvar gave the opening remarks for the session, as well as filling in as a panellist. As the French Government Representative to the ILO and Senior Task Officer to the G7-G20 for Labour, Employment and Social Protection policies, she offered her views from the government perspective, but also as Chair of the global partnership Alliance 8.7. Lisa Singh highlighted her organisation’s securing of the Bali Process on ending Modern Slavery, as a model case of Business-Government collaboration. Yuka Iwatsuki founded Action against Child Exploitation (ACE) and developed the organisation to become a leading NGO in Japan in the fight to eliminate child labour. Both herself and Masako Ota, ACE’s Chief of Advocacy who acted as the session moderator, joined the Global March against Child Labour back in 1997. Andrews Addoquaye Tagoe, an agricultural engineer by training and a trade unionist by profession, has worked on various strategies to address child labour and child trafficking and promote decent work in the value chains of cacao, palm oil, rice and fishing.

Collaboration in the midst of crisis: Progress, the pandemic and the power of data

The general sentiment across the board was clear. The COVID-19 backlash has knocked the world off track on its commitments to SDG 8.7 by the set deadlines. Panellists spoke of these as challenging times but made explicit what this meant: an existential crisis for millions across the globe.

Recent progress was not overlooked, with Anousheh Karvar opening the session with celebratory remarks on the long-awaited universal ratification of ILO Convention No.182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, with the last ratification of the convention being registered in August 2020. For those fighting for the elimination of child labour over the last few decades, this symbolised a global consensus on the need for immediate and effective measures to secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour. As such, it constituted an unprecedented call to action. Whilst acknowledging universal ratification as a matter of celebration, Kailash emphasised the need for all stakeholders to fully recognise their individual accountability in order for this convention to be consequential. He went on to give a passionate keynote speech, which started by pointing out that the convention was, “born out of impatience – mine and hundreds of millions of children in the world, young people, social workers, NGOs, teachers […] this was the result of anger.”

The implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, the endless loss of income, social welfare, education is likely foreshadowing “the loss of a generation of progress,” as Anousheh expressed. With the pandemic likely to push 88 to 115 million people into extreme poverty within 2020 and affect over 9% of the population by 2021 (World Bank 2020), she highlighted that in the absence of adequate social protection for all, the most vulnerable are the ones that fall into abject poverty, as well as face numerous other human rights violations, when crises hit. The fact that countries have been implementing temporary social protection measures shows us that, with the political willpower, it is feasible to realise a social safety net. According to Anousheh, France has proposed that recovery can only be sustained, and future impacts mitigated, if countries are able to build on and extend these temporary measures into sustainable social protection systems (including basic income security, child allowances, and access to nutrition, education and care). This echoes opinions voiced by many other governments, CSOs, and publics across the world. To realise the level of resilience needed to withstand future shocks, international organisations, governments, workers and businesses will need to work hand in hand, with the civil society. This was precisely the multi-stakeholder approach taken by the Alliance 8.7.

These estimations on global poverty levels of the upcoming years are based on various predictions of the future global economic outlook, offering just some insight into the long-term implications of the pandemic and allowing us to better prepare for what we might face. Lisa underlined the significance of reliable data collection and data accessibility in accelerating the achievement of the SDG goals, which was strongly reiterated by the other panellists. Together with the ILO and IOM, Walk Free produces the world’s leading data set on modern slavery globally and the Global Slavery Index, which provides information on the size of the problem within a particular industry, contributing factors, and industry-relevant recommendations. Anousheh underlined the role that data plays for Alliance 8.7 in more accurately measuring the progress of their Pathfinder countries who have committed to certain actions to accelerate the achievement of SDG8.7. Andrew offered Ghana as a fitting case study for this point; as an Alliance 8.7 Pathfinder country, data and knowledge-sharing between local community level stakeholders, overseas organisations and the Ghanaian government has enabled the introduction of measures that address the root causes of child labour.

Cross-sector collaboration in data collection and sharing plays a crucial role in enforcing accountability in global supply chains and business and human rights. ACE President Yuka Iwatsuki reminded us that establishing global supply chain due diligence was one of the strategies already agreed to by the G20 leaders in 2018. Whilst she welcomed the EU’s comprehensive due diligence reform which is currently in the pipeline, she pointed out that a mechanism to ensure that each country is doing what they agreed would be essential. She proposed that a yearly progress report be submitted by each country to the EWG. Public procurement legislation might prove to be a promising strategy for governments to set a level playing field in the business sector, and the rising popularity of ESG investments a complimentary instrument for businesses to stay competitive.

Learning from different perspectives: Models of collaboration

In order to mitigate setbacks caused by COVID-19, the panellists offered models of CSO-government-business collaboration to accelerate progress.

Anousheh explained how, since 2016, Alliance 8.7 has demonstrated the many ways in which global forces can come together, and the synergies that can emerge from international multi-level and multi-sector stakeholder partnerships. These kinds of global networks have the powerful advocating capacity to create synergies and draw the attention of the international community to violations of rule of law and better ensure commitments be respected. They are able to facilitate the matching of Pathfinder countries to accelerate the pace of progress in achieving SDG8.7 through the provision of technical expertise, knowledge and other forms of support to countries with the political will to protect the most socially vulnerable.

Meanwhile, Lisa showcased the potential of regional government and private sector collaboration in combatting child labour, modern slavery and human trafficking with the Bali Process (2017). This initiative brought together business leaders and ministers from across the Indo-Pacific region, resulting in the formulation of the Triple AAA Recommendations - the first regional policy document agreed to by businesses and states to eradicate these crimes in the region. It provides a principle framework of actions: supply chain transparency, ethical recruitment, worker protection and redress, essentially standardising regional responses, both from businesses and governments, with regard to SDG8.7 as well as broader socio-economic protection.

Yuka outlined ACE’s experience organising the SDG8.7 Dialogues during the C20 in Japan last year, putting it forward as an innovative model for triangular collaboration. These dialogues were attended by 80 participants, including 20 countries and international organisations, and were a rare opportunity for government officials and CSOs to directly exchange best practices in a less formal environment. She further showcased how CSO’s community-based approach can lead to far-reaching systemic reform. ACE’s SMILE-Ghana Project (2009-present) uses a community and areas-based approach to eliminate child labour in areas of the cacao production region of South Ghana. The sustainable solution model operated by the project involved collaborations with chocolate and confectionary companies in Japan, which reformed their supply chains and established a child labour-free market in Japan. ACE is now coordinating with JICA (Japan International Corporation Agency) to establish Japan’s industry-wide sustainable cacao platform. More recently, the area-based approach used by SMILE-Ghana was scaled up to the national level through collaboration with the Ghanaian government, and forms the basis of a standardised national Child Labour Free Zone (CLFZ) system.

Experience from the field offers authentic and invaluable lessons to address root causes of child labour. Andrew spoke in more detail about how the CLFZ system in Ghana was the product of cross-sector expertise and knowledge from the community, CSOs, business, trade unions and the Ghanaian Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations (MELR). The system is set to become a mechanism of monitoring and certification to establish standardised Child Labour Free Zones, initially in the cacao production areas of Ghana, and ultimately applicable for any context involving child labour, in Ghana and other parts of West Africa.

The way forward

Kailash Satyarthi’s work on the streets of India and across the world fuels the passion that makes his calls to action so impactful. He explains that people need to be impassioned and angry, but more importantly convert that anger into urgency and effective action, to build “the strongest possible collaborations”. While the pandemic has brought new challenges, Kailash reminds us that for over 40 years in his fight to protect children, so many excuses have been given, both by the people who make money out of it and those that use products made by children on a daily basis. He points out, “COVID-19 cannot be used as another excuse”.

To prevent excuses like COVID-19 from impeding progress in eliminating child labour, CSOs like ACE must continuously stay active in international advocacy to push governments and businesses to take responsibility. The elimination of child labour was stipulated in the 2020 Civil Society 20 Policy Pack, in relation to the fields of employment and social protection, education and gender; this policy pack is a key tool for influencing and recommending policy to the G20. The Labour and Employment Ministers Declaration also included this commitment for the fourth consecutive year. ACE’s organisation of the session on ‘Promoting CSO-Business-Government collaboration’ followed our participation in organising the C20 Summit 2019 in Japan, which was chaired by ACE President Yuka Iwatsuki, and we intend to continue to foster international cross-sector collaboration.

While leader’s commitments and regulations are crucial to any strategy to end child labour, modern slavery, forced labour and human trafficking, innovative models of collaboration will be equally important moving forward. Cross-sector collaborations such as Alliance 8.7’s global Pathfinder program, ACE’s collaboration with the Ghanaian government and GAWU for the Child Labour Free Zone in Ghana, and the Bali Process in the Indo-Pacific region, are just some examples of the results that the collaboration triangle can yield in accelerating the achievement of SDG 8.7.

The session’s model cases will influence discussions at the G20 Summit in November.

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