17 Jul 2019

‘Measurement, Action, Freedom’- what it means

Key findings and a way forward from ‘Measurement, Action, Freedom’, Walk Free’s latest international report.


Today, the Minderoo Foundation’s Walk Free Initiative has released Measurement, Action, Freedom, a report assessing government action and inaction in responding to modern slavery under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8.7.

The report uncovers that at the current rate of progress, we are not on track to achieve SDG 8.7, the eradication of modern slavery, by 2030.

Without clear indicators to measure progress toward the 2030 goal to eliminate human trafficking, forced labour and modern slavery, governments are unable to report consistently or be held to account.

Without measurement of progress, we cannot expect change.

‘Measurement, Action, Freedom’ shines a light on those taking strong action, identifies those that are lagging, and highlights the activities that should be prioritised if SDG 8.7 is to be met.

Without a renewed commitment from every country and effective measurement, millions will continue to be enslaved. We must analyse the report’s key findings, and determine a way forward.

Key findings

  • Progress is slow.  
    If we are to achieve SDG 8.7 and liberate 40.3 million from slavery by 2030, approximately 10,000 people need to be freed from slavery each day.
  • Legislation is lacking. Only 36 countries have ratified the 2014 ILO Forced Labour Protocol. 47 countries have not criminalised human trafficking and 133 have not criminalised forced marriage.
  • Victims are not being identified.
    While most countries provide training for police or first responders, only a fraction of victims are identified globally. Governments cannot extend protection to victims they cannot reach and currently they are failing at the first step.
  • Identified survivors cannot access services.
    In more than a third of countries assessed, victims face criminal charges for crimes committed while under the control of those who exploit them. In 60 countries, victims are deported or detained for immigration violations and in 95 countries, limited options exist for men, children and migrants to access services.
  • Limited engagement with the private sector.
    Despite there being an estimated 16 million people in forced labour in the private economy worldwide. engagement with business is limited. Only 40 countries have investigated public or business supply chains to tackle labour exploitation.

The way forward

At the current rate of progress, achieving SDG 8.7 by 2030 is impossible. Without renewed commitment from every country and effective measurement, millions will continue to be enslaved. The report calls on all member states and the UN Statistical Commission to:

Work together to develop and adopt indicators to track progress in eradicating all forms of modern slavery under SDG 8.7.

There are several key steps countries can take to prioritise progress towards SDG 8.7:

  • Increase identification and support for victims
  • Ratify the 2014 ILO Protocol
  • Criminalise all forms of modern slavery
  • Empower women and girls by providing primary education for all
  • Ensure legal protections for all workers

The SDGs were not meant to be divisible nor achieved by a single government acting alone. Cooperation and coordination are crucial. Governments must participate regionally and bilaterally to share resources and expertise. International organisations must provide technical capacity to implement the recommendations, while civil society must work together to hold governments to account.

Measurement, Action, Freedom has shone a light on the reality of ending modern slavery by 2030, and action must be taken to address the deficiencies uncovered.

Although this is a huge international challenge, there is way forward if countries work together and acknowledge there is more to be done.

We all have a role to play in eradicating modern slavery.