Global Battery Alliance Pledges to End Child Labour

Jun 8, 2021 9:30 AM ET

ALEXANDRIA, USA, June 8, 2021 /3BL Media/ - The Global Battery Alliance (GBA) today announced its 2021 Action Pledge to End Child Labour in the Battery Supply Chain, as part of the Alliance 8.7’s campaign to encourage significant and meaningful actions in the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour.

Child labour in the battery supply chain is an escalating issue as the demand for batteries grows rapidly to contribute to the goals for a low carbon transition. Lithium-ion batteries depend on access to cobalt and two-thirds of global reserves are located in the copper belt of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and often associated with human rights issues including child labour.  

Separately, lead-acid batteries (LAB) constitute approximately 72 percent of the world rechargeable battery capacity (in GWh) for cars, including electric vehicles, industrial batteries, and for off-grid energy renewable energy storage, especially in developing countries.  The informal sector of lead recycling via unregulated, unlicensed and often illegal economic activity includes significant use of children in the collection and hazardous recovery of lead from batteries, especially in emerging economies.

The GBA has developed a multi-year roadmap towards 2030 based on 10 principles to which all of its members commit, including Principle #8: “Immediately and urgently eliminating child and forced labour, strengthening communities and respecting the human rights of those employed by the value chain”. To achieve these goals, the GBA is focusing on four areas of action:

  • Development of a digital Battery Passport to track and authenticate the absence of child labour in the sourcing of cobalt and sustainability criteria of the battery. The Battery Passport will require companies to demonstrate they have no child labour along the value chain by reporting on child labour indicators, leading to greater transparency and monitoring.
  • Participation in the Cobalt Action Partnership (CAP), which contributes to the sustainable development of responsible artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) and surrounding communities, and the respect of human rights of those affected by the cobalt value chain. The CAP will support the implementation of standards at mine sites in the DRC that will prohibit child labour.
  • Aiming to raise US$ 21 million from public and private partners over the next three years for The Fund for the Prevention of Child Labour in Mining Communities – A Global Battery Alliance Collaboration, to address the root causes of child labour in mining communities through multisectoral initiatives, and in cooperation with the government and civil society organizations in the DRC.
  • Convening policymakers to accelerate adoption of best practices to formalise lead-acid battery recycling. Formalizing lead recycling would help eliminate the participation of children in recycling and the direct and indirect exposure of children to lead.

“The elimination of child labour in the global battery supply chain is at the heart of our work at the Global Battery Alliance to ensure that the soaring demand for batteries is responsible and sustainable. This Pledge builds upon GBA’s existing commitments to strengthen the transparency of sourcing materials across the value chain and facilitate a safe and sustainable future for mining communities in the DRC, the world's largest producer of cobalt. It is vital that the supply of clean energy does not come at the expense of the world’s most vulnerable communities and, to ensure this, we look forward to collaborating with all relevant stakeholders and executing initiatives like the Battery Passport, which promises a fully traceable, responsible and sustainable battery supply chain.” Benedikt Sobotka, Chief Executive Officer of Eurasian Resources Group (ERG) and Co-chair of the Global Battery Alliance Supervisory Council.

“Global Battery Alliance members are committed to a battery supply chain, from responsible mining to recycling, that’s clean, green, safe, and free from child labour. This will take policy reform, corporate commitments, and a community-based development strategy. The diverse membership of the GBA is uniquely positioned to deliver results.” – Stephen D’Esposito, President and CEO of Resolve and Vice Chair, Global Battery Alliance Board of Directors.

About the Global Battery Alliance

The Global Battery Alliance (GBA) is a public-private collaboration platform founded in 2017 at the World Economic Forum to help establish a sustainable battery value chain by 2030. The GBA brings together leading businesses along the entire battery value chain, international organizations, NGOs, academics and multiple governments to align collectively in a pre-competitive, multi-stakeholder manner to drive systemic change. All its activities follow Ten Guiding Principles in an effort to realize the GBA 2030 Vision across three dimensions: establishing a circular battery value chain that is a major driver to achieve the Paris Agreement targets; transforming the economy in the value chain, creating new jobs and economic value; and safeguarding human rights and economic development in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Responsible Business Alliance (RBA) is the Secretariat of the GBA.

Media Contact

Jarrett Bens, Senior Director of Communications
Responsible Business Alliance
Phone: +1 571.858.5721