UNICEF: Improving Children’s Rights In The Supply Chain
The guidance tool, which has been released ahead of the annual World Day Against Child Labour, is the result of a partnership between UNICEF and NBIM, which manages the assets of the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global. Leading apparel and footwear companies, such as Adidas, H&M, and VF Corporation, have all been involved.
“As the socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic threaten the livelihoods of millions of workers in global supply chains, children’s rights must be at the heart of business action,” said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Charlotte Petri Gornitzka.
“We have an opportunity to re-imagine the post-COVID world and build a better garment and footwear sector that supports the right of every child.”
The guidance tool has provided practical steps for companies to embed children’s rights in their sustainability strategies and approaches. Companies are called on to collect evidence on the impact on children, identify bottlenecks, and take proactive steps to make sure children’s rights are effectively integrated into their supply chain management systems.
Specific metrics, supporting the measurement of and reporting on children’s right outcomes over time, have also been included in the guidance.
The guidance also calls on the companies to:
Assess child rights risks and business preparedness to address them;
Integrate child rights into policies and management systems;
Get internal buy-in and engage key decision-makers;
Strengthen supplier capacity to address child rights and root causes;
Monitor and measure outcomes and progress;
Engage stakeholders, workers and implement grievance processes;
Report on outcomes and progress;
Collaborate and invest in multi-stakeholder initiatives;
Support governments and advocate for children’s rights
“At Norges Bank Investment Management, we see respect for children’s rights as an inherent part of good business practice and risk management” said NBIM Chief Corporate Governance Officer Carine Smith Ihenacho.
“Children must be at the heart of companies’ sustainability efforts as they are among the most vulnerable members of society and the basis for future prosperity. It is our hope that the guidance tool and our partnership with UNICEF will contribute to improved market practices and greater respect for children’s rights across the sector.”
Biden establishes Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force
The US government is to establish a new body with the express purpose of addressing imbalances and other supply chain concerns highlighted in a review of the sector, ordered by President Joe Biden shortly after his inauguration.
The Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force will “focus on areas where a mismatch between supply and demand has been evident,” the White House said. The division will be headed up by the Secretaries of Commerce, Transportation, and Agriculture, and will focus on housing construction, transportation, agriculture and food, and semiconductors - a drastic shortage of which has hit some of the US economy’s biggest industries in consumer technology and vehicle manufacturing.
“The Task Force will bring the full capacity of the federal government to address near-term supply/demand mismatches. It will convene stakeholders to diagnose problems and surface solutions - large and small, public or private - that could help alleviate bottlenecks and supply constraints,” the White House said.
In late February, President Biden ordered a 100 day review of the supply chain across the key areas of medicine, raw materials and agriculture, the findings of which were released this week. While the COVID-19 health crisis had a deleterious effect on the nation’s supply chain, the published assessment of findings says the root cause runs much deeper. The review concludes that “decades of underinvestment”, alongside public policy choices that favour quarterly results and short-term solutions, have left the system “fragile”.
In response, the administration aims to address four key issues head on, strengthening its position in health and medicine, sustainable and alternative energy, critical mineral mining and processing, and computer chips.
Support domestic production of critical medicines
- A syndicate of public and private entities will jointly work towards manufacturing and onshoring of essential medical suppliers, beginning with a list of 50-100 “critical drugs” defined by the Food and Drug Administration.
- The consortium will be led by the Department of Health and Human Services, which will commit an initial $60m towards the development of a “novel platform technologies to increase domestic manufacturing capacity for API”.
- The aim is to increase domestic production and reduce the reliance upon global supply chains, particularly with regards to medications in short supply.
Secure an end-to-end domestic supply chain for advanced batteries
- The Department of Energy will publish a ‘National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries’, beginning a 10 year plan to "develop a domestic lithium battery supply chain that combats the climate crisis by creating good-paying clean energy jobs across America”.
- The effort will leverage billions in funding “to finance key strategic areas of development and fill deficits in the domestic supply chain capacity”.
Invest in sustainable domestic and international production and processing of critical minerals
- An interdepartmental group will be established by the Department of Interior to identify sites where critical minerals can be produced and processed within US borders. It will collaborate with businesses, states, tribal nations and stockholders to “expand sustainable, responsible critical minerals production and processing in the United States”.
- The group will also identify where regulations may need to be updated to ensure new mining and processing “meets strong standards”.
Partner with industry, allies, and partners to address semiconductor shortages
- The Department of Commerce will increase its partnership with industry to support further investment in R&D and production of semiconductor chips. The White House says its aim will be to “facilitate information flow between semiconductor producers and suppliers and end-users”, improving transparency and data sharing.
- Enhanced relationships with foreign allies, including Japan and South Korea will also be strengthened with the express proposed of increasing chip output, promoting further investment in the sector and “to promote fair semiconductor chip allocations”.