Call for action: ending child labour in agriculture with the help of agricultural stakeholders
2021 is the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly, in light of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 8.7 that seeks to eliminate all forms of child labour by 2025.
152 million boys and girls are still trapped in child labour worldwide, and 71% or 108 million of them are working in agriculture. The impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic on agri-food systems is exacerbating rural poverty and leading to an increase in child poverty, school dropout and food insecurity.  Children are being increasingly involved in working activities to compensate labour gaps and income losses in food and agricultural production. This situation is likely to reverse progress and undermine efforts to eradicate rural poverty (SDG 1), achieve zero hunger (SDG 2), and eliminate child labour (SDG 8.7).
The Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), QU Dongyu, pledges to intensify efforts for ending child labour in agriculture: ‘'This year, we will step-up our efforts to strengthen the capacities of a wide range of agricultural actors to include child labour prevention and youth employment in their work''.
In 2020, FAO released the FAO Framework to Eliminate Child Labour in Agriculture to support and upscale action of agricultural stakeholders in the elimination of child labour in agriculture. Moreover, FAO launched an online consultation on the Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition: “How can agricultural policies and strategies help to end child labour in agriculture?”. Practitioners from 41 countries shared 90 contributions, highlighting diverse issues of child labour in agriculture, and lessons learned and good practices from agricultural stakeholders. The consultation showed the importance of taking a multisectoral approach to eliminate child labour in agriculture through school feeding programmes, adequate resource management, women’s empowerment, cash transfers and digitalization, among others. Building on these findings and FAO’s Framework, this Call for Action is another step towards FAO’s contribution to the International Year.
This Call for Action aims to capture and recognise the commitment, responsibility, and efforts of agricultural stakeholders in addressing child labour in agriculture, and to build momentum towards more concerted action at local, national and global level. It will give agricultural stakeholders the opportunity to indicate what actions they or their organizations could take to increase action towards the elimination of child labour in agriculture and what recommendations they would provide to agricultural and other stakeholders. The Call intends to give voice to a wide range of agricultural stakeholders and to highlight especially the situation and dynamics at the very local level in rural communities.
The ideas for action received will feed into the FAO regional consultations for the International Year to be held in September, and the FAO high-level Global Event on Ending Child Labour in Agriculture on 2-3 November 2021. They will also inform the design of specific child labour large-scale programmes, projects and investments at country-level focusing on the different sub-sectors of agriculture and food systems at large.
The most impactful, innovative and relevant contributions to this Call for Action, and those submitted for the consultation held in 2020, will be showcased at the Global Event and participants will be invited to present them.
Submissions are welcome in all six UN languages (English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic and Chinese). The call is open until 14 June 2021.
Thank you very much for your valuable contribution.
Decent Rural Employment Officer, Inclusive Rural Transformation and Gender Equity Division, FAO
 ILO, 2017. Global estimates of child labour. Available in English, French and Spanish.
 UN, 2020. Policy brief: the impact of COVID-19 on children. Available in English.
 World Bank. 2021. Food security and COVID-19. Available in English.
 ILO and UNICEF. COVID-19 and child labour: a time of crisis, a time to act. Available in English, French and Spanish.
 The virtual event launch of the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour 2021 organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO).
 FAO Framework for the Elimination of Child Labour in Agriculture (2020), available in Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.
 Agricultural stakeholders: agricultural-line ministries, research institutions, employer and producer organizations, farmer organizations, private sector, youth organizations, development banks, etc.
 FSN Forum Consultation summary available online in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish.