ECLT OPENING STATEMENT Kampala, July 3rd 2019
For two and a half years, the Eliminating Child Labour in Tobacco Growing Foundation has been following the debate of the ILO Governing Body on the collaboration issue with the tobacco sector with great interest .
As an independent Swiss Foundation, based in Geneva - our sole purpose and mandate is to prevent and protect children from child labour wherever tobacco is grown. As a global leader working to keep children from tobacco growing communities in-school, and adolescent workers protected from hazardous child labour, we know what works. Collaboration! Collaboration with Governments, collaboration with unions, collaboration with companies, collaboration with the ILO, and above all collaboration with the communities and families - who rely on us to get this right.
As I look around the room today, I can personally state that I have had the privilege to work with a number of you in one capacity or another to address some of the key decent work deficits which we will be discussing over the next three days. I am inspired by personally knowing that a great number of us gathered in this room want what is best for our families, our communities, and our children. However, I am also cautious and aware that our commitments to our individual and professional agendas may distract us from truly grasping the complexities that defines the issues at hand - and may get in the way of us collectively coming together to overcome the decent work deficits we will be discussing.
We have come from all over the world to attend this meeting, but as we debate what is in the best interest for our constituents and stakeholders, I have to ask, who better to help us all understand the realities and challenges towards sustainability and crop diversification in an increasingly volatile and unpredictable environment than to hear from a Malawi farmer? Or who better to inform our discussion about gender concerns in the sector, than the mom from right up the road who uses her savings from Village Savings and Loan Associations to ensure her children’s school fees are paid on time? Or to better understand the realities faced by overcoming these deficits in the sector, than by hearing from a former child labourer, who is here today, and is now gainfully employed in decent work with the help and support from the local trade union?
This meeting has created an opportunity for all of us to hear their voices and to gain greater insights from the people who will be inadvertently be impacted by these discussions and debate. 40 million more farmers outside this room are further counting on us to get this right!
The SDGs call for greater collaboration.
As a call to action, if we cant find a better way to collaborate, across all stakeholders, as we come out of this meeting, we will be doing both a disservice to the people we have come here to support, and run a risk of creating additional barriers that can increase the very work deficits we are trying to avoid.
ECLT sees securing enhanced Social Dialogue in tobacco growing communities as a viable way forward.
As an independent Foundation working to address child labour issues in the sector, we need your support to build greater collaboration across all stakeholders- and to secure enhanced Social Dialogue in tobacco growing communities, so that we can ensure that children’s rights are upheld and children remain protected throughout the world’s tobacco growing communities.
Nicholas McCoy Director of Advocacy, Partnerships, & Engagement ECLT Foundation