Global Child Forum hosted a full day summit at JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur with participation of 250 leaders from the ASEAN region. Global Child Forum is an independent, global multi-stakeholder platform for informed dialogue and thought leadership to advance children’s rights in support of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The patron and founder of Global Child Forum, H.M King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, officiated the event by welcoming delegates from 26 countries including Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and UAE.
“Global Child Forum is an independent Royal Foundation with special focus on children’s rights and the business sector. Our vision is a world where children’s rights for future generations are respected and supported by all actors in society, and where the business and financial sector can have a special role to play,” said H.M King Carl XVI Gustaf opening the event.
This year, the Forum brought its attention on children’s rights as a corporate sustainability agenda in the era of hypermobility and connectivity. South East Asia is currently experiencing a period of rapid economic growth at an unprecedented scale especially in the tourism and the ICT industry sectors, as well as increased migration flows within the region. This new environment provides both challenges and opportunities for protecting children’s rights. At the Forum, leaders from business, civil society and government shared best practices for how companies can strengthen children’s rights within their operations. The day also included the launch of regional benchmark study.
The study analysed the reported practices of 289 companies operating in the ASEAN region including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and Philippines spanning over 9 industry sectors were used as a benchmark to assess how the companies promote children’s rights in their business value chains.
The benchmark study shows that most industries in the ASEAN region significantly underperform compared to the global average, but outperform Middle East and North Africa (MENA). It was revealed that the companies have very few activities to report in tandem with the pattern of the global sample. Only 29% of the surveyed companies in the region have a child labour policy in their compliance, which is much less prominent than the global average of 62%.
Dr. Fiona Rotberg, Research Director of Global Child Forum explained that, “It is impressive to see that 70% of the companies in the region actively promote children’s rights programmes, which is well above the global average of 48%. However, a lot of work still needs to be done to protect Southeast Asian children. We encourage business to bring up the regional benchmark score and to focus not solely on child labour but to address issues such as product safety, marketing to children and sexual exploitation.”
Hon. Dato’ Sri Rohani Abdul Karim, Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, Government of Malaysia noted, “The Global Child Forum and Boston Consulting Group have evaluated 289 companies from across the region, to assess if and how companies address and report on children’s rights. The results show that companies to a large extent have a sense of the importance of being a good corporate citizen, by contributing to programmes and community investment initiatives. However, the results of the study also tell us that there is a lot of work to do, and huge opportunities for companies and others to act – as children’s rights have not yet made it into the board rooms and strategic business analyses if most companies in the region.”
Moderated by Ms. Veronica Pedrosa, former anchor of Al Jazeera and BBC, the high-level session in the morning set the stage for business leaders to share their best practices. In the afternoon, the ActionLab sessions provided opportunities for the audience to observe the talks focusing on four topics unique to the ASEAN region. The topics included:
- Reframing challenges as opportunities – youth employment as a driver for change,
- Children in the digital age – how the ICT sector can support and respect children’s rights,
- Safeguarding children’s rights in the travel and tourism sector, as well as,
- The children’s rights and Business Atlas as a tool for responsible business.
About Global Child Forum
Based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Global Child Forum, an independent, multi-stakeholder platform, aims to promote children’s rights together with top leaders from businesses, governments, academia and civil society. Initiated by H.M King Carl XVI Gustaf and H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden in 2009, the non-profit foundation regularly organises Forums to provide a unique platform for the identification of opportunities on how businesses can contribute to the promotion of children’s rights. The Global Child Forum on May 5 in Kuala Lumpur is the first Forum to be hosted in Southeast Asia – and is the organisation’s third regional Forum.
The Global Child Forum on Southeast Asia is organised in close association with UNICEF, UN Global Compact, ASEAN CSR Network, Save the Children, Plan International and ECPAT International.