Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

Member profile

Mr. Bernd Seiffert

Organization: FAO
Country: Italy
Field(s) of expertise:
I am working on:

decent rural employmet

Mr Seiffert leads FAO’s work on ending and preventing child labour in agriculture and his previous work in FAO focused on institution building, producer organizations, rural livelihoods and participatory approaches. Before joining FAO in 1999, he worked for different organizations supporting rural development, agricultural and youth development programmes in Africa and Asia.

He holds a M. A. in sociology, political science and education and has completed postgraduate studies in agricultural and rural development, as well as in business administration.

This member contributed to:

    • Message from the facilitator

      Dear participants, FSN members,

      A warm thank you to all those who have contributed to and disseminated this Call for Action, which has aimed at turning local, regional and global commitment into collective action. As reported in the new ILO-UNICEF Global Estimates, 112 million child labourers were found in agriculture in early 2020, 4 million more since 2016, with the sector still accounting for 70% of all child labour. In addition, further 8.9 million girls and boys could be in child labour by the end of 2022 as a result of rising poverty driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. In this context, we hope that your engagement and action will go beyond this Call for Action, joining our efforts to reverse this intolerable trend and give back to all children their right to an educated and healthy childhood. Your contributions to the Call and the resulting outcome document will continue feeding FAO’s observance of the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, and contribute to the Global Event on Ending Child Labour in Agriculture on 2-3 November 2021. Closer to the Event, we will share with you all relevant information.

      A warm thank you to all of you.

      Bernd Seiffert

    • Message from the facilitator

      Dear participants, the new ILO-UNICEF Global Estimates on Child Labour have been released. With four years left before the 2025 deadline for achieving SDG 8.7, numbers are alarming. In early 2020, 112 million child labourers were found in agriculture, marking an increase of 4 million since 2016. In relative terms, the agricultural sector is still accounting for more than 70% of all child labour. In addition, a new analysis suggests that a further 8.9 million children will be in child labour by the end of 2022 as a result of rising poverty driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. To put action to end child labour on track, we urgently need a breakthrough in agriculture. All agricultural actors can make a difference. Join our efforts and share with us your thoughts by Monday!

    • Climate change and environmental degradation:

      What do we know about the link between climate change and child labour in agriculture? Unfortunately, limited research has been carried out in this aera. We do know that environmental degradation can lead to situations where the prevelance or severity of child labour increases.

      Some examples:

      • When fisheries resources become depleted or stocks begin to decrease due to over-fishing and insufficient sustainable resource anagement, child labour in fisheries, especially aongst small scale artisanal fisherfolk can increase [1]. As fisherfold are able to catch less fish per outing and may not be able to afford adult labour due to financial restrictions, they engage children at a low cost. Girls typically tend to be more involvedin cleaning, processing and selling, while boys tend to be more engaged on the water including in hazardous tasks such as working on boats, diving to untangle nets or scare fish into nets, fishing at night, boat repair and more [2]. Not only are tasks hazardous but they make it difficult to fully participate in school if at all.
      • Due to climate change, water availability is becoming less predictable in many places, this includes the exacerbation of water scarcity. In many countries, e.g. in Sub-Saharan Agrican, women and children are the primary collectors of water. Water collection in many countries can negatibely affect children's schooling [3]. In a study on access to rura water services in Ethiopia, when asked about their perspections of domestic chores, including fetching water for their households, nearly all young girls in Ethiopia felt that it limited their ability to partake and succeed in school [4]. With increased water scarcity, children could be further pulled out of school.

      What can be done?

      • Large scale climate change related programmes and projects, especially thos eworking in geographic areas or with resources where child labour is prevalent, should consider to include budget measures on addressing child labour in agriculture. For example, an irrigation project in cotton could include a training component on adressing child labour and hazardous work (e.g. pesticides exposures) amongst cotton rgowing communities and agriculture stakeholders.
      • If new irrigation schemes are planned the labour demand should be carefully assessed (through a participatory approach) and planned in the preparatory phase of the programme. Not rarely the assumption is that women would provide the needed labour yet they are often already time poor which puts children at risk of spending too many hours undetaking work in the field, instead of fully attending school.

      Domestic supply chains:

      Currently most attention and almost all dedicated fianncial resources for fighting child labour are allcoated to addressing child labour in global supply chains, while most of child labour in agriculture is not linked to global supply chains, but more often found in domestic and local supply chains and insubsistence farming [4]. We will not reach SDG 8.7 if we continue to leave this larhe group of child labourers behind. More investments and dedicated resources for addressing child labour in agriculture in this context are needed, which is more difficult to address.

      In Addition:

      I would also like to ponit out the important work of the Alliance 8.7. So far, 21 countries have become Alliance 8.7 Pathfinder countries, thereby planning to lead the way in obtaining SDG 8.7. Nevertheless, this opportunity also requires high level support from the various ministries to ensure that different sectors are fully participating, this includes an active role of the Minsitries of Agriculture, as well as a translation of adopted policies and strategies into concrete action. Producer organizations have certanily an important role to play, like we have, for example, seen in some certification schemes at local level. Yet, at regional and global elvel producer organzaitions have not been very actibe on the topic. In order for advances to be made on the question of child labour, a truly integrated, inter-sectoral, inter-actor engagement is needed.

      Finally, I would like to make reference to the docuent that was developed on the decisive role that agricultural stakeholders can play to end child labour in agriculture.


      [1] ILO Analytical Study on Child Labour in Volta fishing in Ghana:…

      [2] FAO (policy brief) Eliminating Child Labour in Fisheries and Aquaculture:

      [3] An Analysis of Water Collection Among Women and Children in 24 Sub-Saharan African Countries:…

      [4] Access to Improve Water Source and Satisfaction with Services: Evidence from Rural Ethiopia:

      [5] ILO Global Estimates on Child Labour 2017:…