08 Sep 2023

G20 Scorecard reveals the world’s richest nations host majority of people living in modern slavery

New analysis has been released ranking the prevalence of modern slavery across the G20 nations and the respective actions governments are taking on the issue.

The analysis comes as world leaders descend on New Delhi for the annual G20 Summit this weekend. Photo Credit: Money SHARMA / AFP via Getty Images.

Saudi Arabia was found to have the highest prevalence of modern slavery in the G20, people living in extreme exploitation including forced labour, forced marriage, and human trafficking.

Prevalence is based on the estimated number of people living in modern slavery compared to the population; for every 1000 people in Saudi Arabia, 21.3 are living in modern slavery. Following closely behind first place for the highest prevalence in the G20 were Türkiye, Russia, and India.

What does the G20 scorecard reveal about modern slavery?

Walk Free’s G20 Scorecard reveals modern slavery exists in every country in the G20, with not one effectively responding to this issue domestically. Equally, purchasing practices of the world’s wealthiest nations are fuelling exploitation in lower-income countries at the forefront of global supply chains.

“Since 2018, only three countries in the G20 have introduced basic legislation to address modern slavery. While vulnerability continues to increase, political action has clearly stagnated,” Walk Free Founding Director Grace Forrest said.

Why is taking action important?

Walk Free’s analysis outlines the steps each G20 government must take to combat modern slavery. From criminalising forced labour and trafficking in line with international standards, to raising the legal age of marriage to 18.

“The G20 accounts for over half of all people living in modern slavery and imports half a trillion dollars of products connected to modern slavery annually,” Ms Forrest said.

“This is appalling when you consider that the G20 represents many of the world’s most sophisticated economies, accounting for 85 per cent of global GDP. Undoubtedly, these influential countries continue to perpetuate and profit from modern slavery.

“Ahead of this week’s Summit in India, where currently 11 million people are estimated to be living in modern slavery, Walk Free calls on the G20 to take responsibility for the increasing prevalence of modern slavery in the world. Action must be taken within their nations, as well as in their transnational supply chains.”

Walk Free’s 2023 Global Slavery Index identified the highest value at-risk products imported by the G20 were electronics; garments; palm oil; textiles; and for the first time, solar panels. The United States was by far the biggest importer of at-risk products (US$169.6 billion).

“With tens and millions of people living in modern slavery within the G20 countries and hundreds of billions of dollars of import-risk, modern slavery must finally be part of G20 discussions on trade and sustainable development,” Ms Forrest said.

“This is not a fringe issue, but rather a major development barrier that is being worsened by the world’s most powerful nations.”