It is estimated that more than 40 million people in the world today are victims of modern slavery – in the form of sexual exploitation, forced or bonded labour, or organ trafficking. Women and children are disproportionally affected.
On 27 and 28 September, the Islamic Reporting Initiative (IRI) took part in the United Nations General Assembly High-level Meetings on the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons.
Drs Daan Elffers, IRI Founder: “Whilst it is illegal in practically every country in the world, slavery still exists in some way or form in the supply chain of almost every company, everywhere. By the same token, companies can therefore make an incredible positive contribution towards ending bonded and forced labour – either directly, or through responsible supply chain management.
Effectively implemented, businesses in every country in the world can remove ‘demand’ for forced and bonded labour, facilitate the reintegration of survivors back into the labour force, increase health and safety conditions overall, and play an instrumental role in the creation of healthy, inclusive societies worldwide.
A key obstacle preventing this transition today is the lack of transparency, making it extremely hard for companies, and consumers for that matter, to identify the good suppliers from the bad. After all, it’s not just about the direct supplier, but also their suppliers, and theirs, and so forth – which is where the overview is easily lost.”
Extensive research has shown that mainstream reporting tools often lack relevance or practicality within the local or cultural context, therefore proving ineffective and preventing the uptake of sustainability reporting generally. As a result, the issue of human slavery also remains largely invisible.
“In our view, slavery is not just a business problem – it’s a moral problem. We therefore see Islamic values of peace, compassion, righteousness and human dignity as superb stepping stones to driving responsible business practices in companies where Islamic values are an important element of corporate culture.
Together with our partners in more than 50 countries, we’re creating the world’s first reporting standard for sustainability & CSR based on Islamic values. In a nutshell, our objective is to help businesses examine the values that drive their business activities, and to provide culturally relevant tools that enable them to express with clarity and simplicity their contribution to social and environmental sustainability.
Besides the moral argument, direct benefits to the business range from a stronger reputation, better management of risks, and greater competitiveness, to accessing new markets, attracting (foreign) investment, and ultimately sustainable economic growth overall.
Together, we can make it happen.”
By making sustainability and CSR culturally relevant, the IRI aspires to effectively accelerate the uptake of sustainability and CSR and systemically advance the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and the OIC 2025 Plan of Action, through nearly a quarter of the world’s population with custodianship for vast reserves of natural resources.
What can you do? The IRI is now inviting businesses, government organizations and not for profit organizations from all countries and constituencies to take part in the development of this standard. By working together, we can create a unique standard for sustainability & CSR reporting, which not only meets the highest international standards, but also is culturally responsive and effective.
Help combat forced labour: To engage with IRI team please contact us.
The IRI’s participation at the UNGA meeting was kindly sponsored by the Amersi Foundation and MIT Global.
Image credit: ZUMA/REX.