New project to develop an industry protocol and platform to increase tracing of goods made with child and forced labor

New project to develop an industry protocol and platform to increase tracing of goods made with child and forced labor

  • Supply Chain Management
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    Detecting child and forced labor in today’s global, complex supply chains is a daunting challenge. The complexity, fragmentation and fluidity of most company’s supply chains limit visibility to the raw materials used in their products. Risks of exploitative labor practices, including child and forced labor, increase at the raw material level, such as farming and mining, and are typically excluded from traditional corporate responsible sourcing programs.

    The U.S. Department of Labor awarded ELEVATE a $4 million cooperative agreement to enhance tracing of goods made with child, forced labor and other exploitive practices as part of a four-year project. Through this award, ELEVATE is establishing a consortium that includes the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS), Diginex Solutions, RCS Global Group, and the Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI). The consortium partners will shape the development and publication of a supply chain and industry agnostic commodity traceability protocol and tracing platform to equip business and other stakeholders with tools to trace their supply chains. This enhanced level of supply chain visibility will support the business sector’s human rights due diligence efforts to source materials that are untainted by child and forced labor, as well as other labor exploitative practices.

    The consortium will pilot the tools in two strategic sectors and geographies: cotton in Pakistan and cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). These pilot cases were selected because of their geographic and supply chain differences and to test the transferability of existing conflict minerals traceability best practices to agricultural commodities. The methodologies and tools developed during the project will be applicable for a wide range of consumer goods industries, including information technology, apparel, and automotive.

    Globally, cobalt and cotton are two of the most in-demand commodities for producing consumer goods, such as batteries and clothing. Evidence of child and forced labor in the sourcing of these commodities is well-documented, yet there is no existing solution that allows brands in multiple industries to detect the use of forced labor in their commodity supply chains. This leaves brands vulnerable to the risk of unidentified child and forced labor in their upstream supply chains.

    “Businesses are facing increased pressure to trace their supply chains to the raw material level. However, efforts to date aren’t scalable, limiting corporate efforts to address increased forced and child labor risks existing at the root of their supply chains. Through this award, we intend to create a protocol and platform to make end-to-end supply chain traceability a standard element of any company’s responsible sourcing program and human rights due diligence efforts. Companies can’t address what they cannot see, which is why we want to make the unseen visible,” says Ian Spaulding, Chief Executive Officer of ELEVATE.

    The protocol and platform will equip brands and retailers with actionable tools to expand their supply chain visibility to identify and address labor exploitation associated with the materials essential to making the products they sell.

    All inquiries regarding this announcement may be addressed to

    Funding is provided by the United States Department of Labor under cooperative agreement number IL-35808-20-75-K. One hundred percent of the total costs of the project or program is financed with USG federal funds, for a total of $4 million dollars.

    About ELEVATE

    ELEVATE is the leading business risk and sustainability solutions provider. We deliver improved organizational performance through sustainability and supply chain assessment and auditing, consulting, program management and analytics. We shape the industry with our innovative solutions to complex problems, by designing and implementing customized programs and technology that provide complete insight into risk and improve supply chain and sustainability performance. ELEVATE is headquartered in Hong Kong, and the company’s 650 employees oversee work in over 100 countries through dedicated offices in Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Germany, Hong Kong SAR, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Pakistan, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UK, USA and Vietnam.

    About GFEMS

    The Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS) is a bold international fund catalyzing a coherent global strategy to end human trafficking by making it economically unprofitable. With leadership from government and the private sector around the world, the Fund is escalating resources, designing public-private partnerships, funding new tools and methods for sustainable solutions, and evaluating effectiveness to better equip our partners to scale and replicate solutions in new geographies.

    About Diginex Solutions

    Diginex builds purpose-led technology with a focus on responsible business practices.  With workers at the core of our solutions to increase transparency, trust and accountability in global supply chains, we work to ensure that technology sits where it can have the greatest impact.  Our team of labor rights specialists and software engineers takes a human-centric approach to develop each solution.  With a track record of successfully deploying scalable technology across Asia and South Asia, our objective is to promote fair recruitment, safe migration, and decent work.

    About RMI

    The Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI) is an initiative of the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA). The RMI is a multi-industry initiative with more than 400 member companies. Its members contribute to the development and international uptake of a range of tools and resources focused on minerals supply chain due diligence, including independent third-party audit programs for smelters, Minerals Reporting Templates, supply chain risk assessment tools, Country of Origin data, and guidance documents on responsible sourcing of tin, tantalum, tungsten, gold, cobalt, and mica. The RMI runs regular workshops on responsible sourcing issues and contributes to policy development with civil society organizations and governments. For more information, visit

    About RCS Global Group

    RCS Global Group is a global leader in the assessment and assurance of responsible sourcing of natural resources and the associated production, trade and transformation processes. With teams working from offices around the world, RCS Global Group also creates positive impact by providing companies with the strategy advice and tools to act responsibly and sustainably. This includes enabling companies to measure, demonstrate and report on their own – and their suppliers’ – positive impact and continuous improvement over time. For further information, please visit:

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