Presented by Dr. Zoe Fortune, The Mekong Club
The Mekong Club is an NGO that aims to harness the skills of the private sector to combat human trafficking. Dr. Zoe Fortune outlined the main advantages and opportunities offered by modern digital technologies in the ongoing fight against modern slavery, highlighting the numerous tools that brands can use to investigate their supply chains.
Leveraging Technology to Fight Modern Slavery in Supply Chains
Today, modern slavery remains a critical human rights issue, and its scale is staggering, with 40.3 people being enslaved on any given day in 2016. The current definition of modern slavery encompasses forced labor and forced marriage. Forced labor, in turn, includes labor exploitation, sexual exploitation and state-imposed forced labor. The highest prevalence of labor exploitation is found in Asia, while the most vulnerable sectors are domestic work, construction, and manufacturing. To keep people trapped in slavery, perpetrators use a number of methods, the most common of which are debt bondage, withholding of pay, isolation and threats. (For a detailed summary of the facts of modern slavery, see this QIMA Infographic.)
Technology: the greatest asset in fighting modern slavery
Modern technology offers a number of previously unavailable tools that transform the way we think about information and connection. In the fight against modern slavery, technology offers such notable advantages as instant access to vast volumes of data (including via Google resources and maps), the ability to visualize data for faster interpretation, multiple ways to connect to people, ways to access hidden populations, and more.
Importantly, technology allows for better use of existing data, through aggregation in databases, harmonization, and collaboration between different members of the private, NGO and government sectors. Meanwhile, some of the more innovative solutions, like the block chain technology, can greatly contribute to traceability and data integrity.
The Mekong Club works with the private sector and develops tools to support organizations who work to tackle the issue of modern slavery. Their focus is on identifying, remediating and preventing instances of modern slavery, as well as facilitating the sharing of learning and collaboration.
Digital tools the Mekong Club offers to brands that want to address human resource risks in their sourcing
Key methods for fully harnessing the power of technology the fight against modern slavery: