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A way forward that puts children, farmers and families first at the ILO

The on-going discussions at the ILO Governing Body’s 337 session will provide an “update on the costed and time-bound integrated strategy to address decent work deficits in the tobacco sector.” The ECLT Foundation continues to follow this issue because of the significant potential impact on children, farmers, workers, families and communities throughout the 120+ countries around the world where tobacco is grown.

The ECLT Foundation welcomed the exchange of views from stakeholders on the further development of the integrated strategy at the Kampala, Uganda July 2019 Global Technical Meeting on Work Deficits in the Tobacco Sector and strongly affirms the Governing Body’s decision at the 334th session to support on-going social dialogue and to mobilise various sustainable sources of funding from the public and private sector, with proper safeguards in place.

Ending child labour is an accelerated SDG target, 8.7, that must be met by 2025. The globally-accepted call is clear: partnerships are the sustainable way forward. Implementing a time-bound and costed strategy is an important step for the ILO to strengthen and sustain collaborative global efforts in the fight against child labour in agricultural communities that grow tobacco.

A way forward that puts children, farmers and families first

Child labour is a critical problem across agricultural sectors and stakes are high for the 108 million children doing work on farms that puts their safety, health, development and future at risk. Focusing only on the tobacco or any single supply chain increases the risk that children simply move from one field to another, which is not a solution.

Since 2011, collaborative work including the sector has shown concrete results, directly supported over 220,000 children, farmers, workers and families in areas where tobacco is grown: • getting children out of child labour and allowing them to stay in school, • giving skills to young people to find decent work, • training farmers to make farms safer for all workers, • strengthening national action plans, capacities and policies to protect all children in areas where tobacco is grown, and beyond.

Now is the time to urgently intensify work and engage all actors, not to cut back. On behalf of the children whose families depend on tobacco growing for their livelihoods, the ECLT Foundation strongly advocates that all tri-partite stakeholders continue to work for a sustainable, collaborative way forward, guaranteeing progress for children, farmers, workers, and families.