Investing in Children’s Rights

5 March 2021

Investors play an important role in influencing corporate behaviour and promoting sustainable business practices. They can also take a number of practical actions to integrate children’s rights in their own policies and investment decision making.   

SSE, stock exchanges and Children's rights

In a recent video produced by UNICEF about investing in children’s rights, the SSE called attention to the strategic position of stock exchanges in influencing the marketplace. Based on current trends and the growth of mandatory sustainability reporting, the SSE initiative expects that by 2030 ESG disclosure will be mandatory and commonplace throughout the world. Such ESG disclosure includes a number of indicators directly related to children's rights.  The SSE ESG Guidance Database contains a comprehensive list of all stock exchange ESG guidance documents in the world so that other stock exchanges can learn from their peers. Currently, 29 out of 56 stock exchange ESG disclosure guidance documents have some guidelines on how to approach and report child or forced labor. These guidelines are found within the context of reporting labour practices, and typically call for information on policies and compliance with relevant laws and regulations that have a significant impact on the issuer relating to preventing child and forced labour. The ESG reporting standard GRI, for example, has specifc standards about these subjects, GRI 408: Child Labor and GRI 409: Forced or Compulsory Labor.   

UNICEF initiatives related to investing in children’s rights 

In 2012 UNICEF, the UN Global Compact and Save the Children developed the Children’s Rights and Business Principles, the first comprehensive set of principles to guide companies on the full range of actions they can take in the workplace, marketplace and community to respect and support children’s rights. While reinforcing standards and actions necessary to prevent and eliminate child labour, the Children’s Rights and Business Principles also highlight the diversity of ways in which business affects children. This includes the impact of companies’ overall business operations – such as their products and services and their marketing methods and distribution practices – as well as through their relationships with national and local governments, and investments in local communities. More details here In 2019, to mark the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Sustainalytics and UNICEF published an investor guidance on integrating child rights into decision making. The guidance highlights the benefits of incorporating child rights into investment decisions including the opening of new potential markets, better well being among the workforce, and more sustainable economies and societies. In addition to the practical toolkit, the guidance includes questions that can be used as part of an active dialogue with companies to find out how they are addressing child rights.

About the SSE

​The SSE initiative is a UN Partnership Programme organised by UNCTAD, the UN Global Compact, UNEP FI and the PRI. The SSE’s mission is to provide a global platform for exploring how exchanges, in collaboration with investors, companies (issuers), regulators, policymakers and relevant international organizations, can enhance performance on ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) issues and encourage sustainable investment, including the financing of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The SSE seeks to achieve this mission through an integrated programme of conducting evidence-based policy analysis, facilitating a network and forum for multi-stakeholder consensus-building, and providing technical assistance and advisory services.