01 Jul 2024

Modern slavery addressed in the Global Agenda at the Oslo Freedom Forum

Walk Free Founding Director Grace Forrest took part in a powerful panel at the Oslo Forum, spotlighting modern slavery, the 2023 Global Slavery Index, and advocating for global action to combat exploitation.

Grace Forrest discussed the true meaning of shifting power and how the climate crisis and human rights must not be treated in isolation. Photo Credit: Jan Khür, Studio Abrakadabra.

The annual Forum in Norway brings together human rights advocates, exiled journalists, industry experts, renowned political activists, tech entrepreneurs and artists.

Together, they share stories and brainstorm ways to expand freedom and unleash human potential across the globe.

There were several key takeaways to remind the world of what still needs to be done to address modern slavery.

Modern slavery is increasing

Modern slavery is on the rise, against a backdrop of increasingly complicated and protracted conflicts, a growing climate crisis, a global rollback on women’s rights, and diminishing migrant worker protections.

The Oslo Freedom Forum is an international human rights conference hosted and produced by the Human Rights Foundation Photo Credit: Jan Khür, Studio Abrakadabra.

Climate and human rights must not be treated in isolation

Treating the climate crisis and human rights as isolated issues leads to ineffective solutions.

Industries like cotton and agriculture have a long history of exploitation. New industries, such as renewable energy, can be built in a way that does not rely on forced labour. Yet today, renewable energy companies fail to comply with basic modern slavery legislation.

While we need green industries in order to combat the climate crisis, the production of these goods cannot come at the cost of worker protection. There should be no “trade-offs” in a just transition.

The G20 must step up to combat modern slavery

The responsibility for change lies on the backs of the world’s wealthiest nations – the G20.

Despite some positive progress, such as the EU’s recent passage of the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence – we are still lacking serious action and political will from leaders.

Grace’s participation in the Oslo Freedom Forum has amplified the urgent need for global action against modern slavery, setting a clear agenda for future efforts.