News Article | February 22, 2017
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Citi today announced a global expansion of the Pathways to Progress initiative led by a Citi Foundation investment of $100 million to connect 500,000 young people, ages 16-24, to training and jobs over the next three years. This is the largest philanthropic commitment in the Citi Foundation’s history. Pathways launched in 2014 with a $50 million effort that helped more than 100,000 young people across 10 U.S. cities become career-ready through first jobs, internships, and leadership and entrepreneurship training. The expansion also includes a commitment to have 10,000 Citi employees volunteer to serve as mentors, coaches and role models to young people and support their career progress. Pathways to Progress aims to help reduce youth unemployment in key cities around the world and improve the quality of the youth workforce. Globally, the youth unemployment rate is three times higher than the adult unemployment rate1, which reflects a gap in the skills and networks many young people currently possess and what is required by many employers or needed to successfully launch an income-generating business. “The playing field isn’t level for all young people and Citi wants to help change that,” said Citi CEO Michael Corbat. “Mentors, internships and exposure to a variety of career opportunities help young people get a foot in the door and provide the foundation they need to thrive in their careers – those are the things Pathways to Progress helps provide to those who might not have access to them otherwise. Young people consistently say they want to pursue careers that allow them to contribute to important societal issues, and I firmly believe that matching that ambition with the skills provided through Pathways will benefit all of us when they enter the workforce.” Through the expansion of Pathways to Progress, Citi and the Citi Foundation continue to work with municipal and community leaders to help young people secure jobs, begin to engage in the formal economy, and contribute positively to their cities. $50 million will be invested in the U.S. in cities including Chicago, Dallas, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Newark, San Francisco, St. Louis, Tampa, and Washington DC and $50 million will be invested internationally in cities including Beijing, Casablanca, Johannesburg, London, Madrid, Mexico City, Mumbai, São Paulo, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei and Warsaw, with a target to reach 500,000 young people globally. Select programming includes: “The constant urban demographic pressure at the level of the Grand Casablanca presents many challenges for all city dwellers, especially youth,” said Casablanca Mayor Abdelaziz El Omari. “To tackle this the city of Casablanca, has opted for smart urbanization based on an innovative strategy that links economic, political and social development and allows for the integration of technologies. To achieve this ambition, Casablanca boasts an original, participatory modus operandi in which youth, citizens, companies and local actors are invited to contribute to nurture the future of the city. We strongly believe that the Pathways to Progress program launched by the Citi Foundation aligns perfectly with our vision.” "The City of Madrid is delighted to collaborate with Citi Foundation and IESE Business School, within Citi’s Pathways to Progress program, to support entrepreneurship in the city of Madrid,” said Roberto Sanchez, General Manager of Innovation and City Promotion, Madrid. “Thanks to the projects which encompass four years of collaboration, we have helped many entrepreneurship projects to internationalize, innovate, grow and thus create economic wealth for our community." “With the rising youth unemployment rates globally, it’s imperative to help the youth build up their confidence and cultivate their leadership skills and competitiveness,” said Dr. Tien-Mu Huang, Vice Chairman, Financial Supervisory Commission, Republic of China (Taiwan). “The Citi Foundation's Pathways to Progress initiative not only helps disadvantaged youth get access to education and employment opportunities, but also utilizes Citi’s expertise and its people to mentor young people to discover their talents and realize their full potential for greater social impact. This has set a great example of social responsibility for corporates.” “This new commitment by the Citi Foundation will help organizations like Junior Achievement test and scale programming that helps more young people globally build a platform for their future success,” said Asheesh Advani, President and CEO, JA Worldwide. “We engage over 2,000 Citi volunteers each year who help deliver critical employability skills programming to millions of youth around the globe. Ensuring that young people do not get left behind is crucial to what we do and is what drives our work.” In the U.S., Pathways to Progress supported programming in 10 U.S. cities: Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Newark, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. Through the Foundation’s initial $50 million initiative, our impact includes: "Young people in Miami deserve the champions that match their optimism, diverse aspirations, and entrepreneurial spirit,” said Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado. “Our work with the Citi Foundation has given us the ability to provide more opportunities, including summer jobs that invest in the economic health of our young people teaching them financial empowerment skills which long-term improve, our city, and our country.” “Through vital partnerships with the private sector, we are helping create more lasting foundational, career building opportunities for young people in St. Louis,” said St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. “Pathways to Progress was instrumental in helping us expand our STL Youth Jobs summer employment program, and with this new commitment this year, we look forward to helping empower even more of our future leaders.” In conjunction with the expanded Pathways to Progress investment, the Citi Foundation is also releasing the results of a survey of young people that will help inform the focus of its programs and partnerships. The study, conducted by Ipsos, found that despite political, economic, and social upheaval, young people around the world are optimistic about their career prospects, but face the reality of limited skills and opportunities. The global youth survey polled more than 7,000 young people ages 18-24 in 45 cities across 32 countries on all the continents except Antarctica between November 2016 and January 2017. “Youth labor markets are evolving rapidly, so are the aspirations and optimism of young women and men who are entering the labor market every day and are confronted by unemployment and/or low quality jobs”, said Azita Berar Awad, Director of the Employment Policy Department at the International Labour Organization. “Channeling the voices of youth from cities across the world, the Citi Foundation’s Global Youth Survey 2017 offers important insights on youth’s perceptions, calling for improved and coordinated action, because when young people have decent work, everyone benefits and our future is more prosperous.” “The Citi Foundation’s 2017 Global Youth Survey offers a fresh perspective on young people, a group that is often easily overlooked in political and economic discourse,” said Michael Rose AM, Chairman of The Committee for Sydney. “The results convey both optimism and concern: young people in Sydney are aspirational about their ability to succeed, but concerned about their career opportunities. The Committee for Sydney is passionate about promoting opportunities for young people, creating effective future leaders and ensuring that the city is a place for all to live and work. We look forward to taking these insights and working across sectors with partners like the Citi Foundation to ensure we match aspirations of today’s youth with opportunities for success.” “This new research will help us identify where we can best continue to invest our efforts to bridge the gap between the entrepreneurial aspirations of young people and the challenges they face,” said Andrew Devenport, CEO of Youth Business International. “Citi Foundation’s new commitment demonstrates the “all in” mentality we need if we are going to truly tackle youth unemployment and drive sustainable economic development in Europe and around the world.” For more information about Pathways to Progress and the study visit CitiFoundation.com. Follow @Citi on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, and use the hashtag #Pathways2Progress to view more insights from the research and join the discussion with those interested in youth empowerment. Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management. The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation's “More than Philanthropy” approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. For more information, visit www.citifoundation.com.
News Article | May 9, 2017
OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 9, 2017) - Canada's unions are celebrating an announcement by Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, that Canada will finally ratify the International Labour Organization's Convention 98. The minister confirmed the news ahead of participating in an international solidarity event at the Canadian Labour Congress Convention in Toronto. "Our government understands that organized labour is key to healthy labour relations that benefit people in workplaces all across our country," said Minister Hajdu. "We are committed to ratifying Convention 98 and sending a clear message to the world about the right of workers to organize in Canada." "This is a long overdue and important step forward for Canadian labour relations," said CLC President Hassan Yussuff. The convention is the only one Canada has yet to ratify out of eight considered by ILO to be the minimum "enabling rights" people need to defend and improve their rights and conditions at work, and to work in freedom and dignity. The Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949, protects all workers from anti-union discrimination, including being forced to give up union membership in order to get a job, or job termination for participating in union activities. Canada's unions have been working for ratification for decades, but since 1949 and until now, successive Canadian governments have refused. The decision will make Canada the 165th country to ratify. The United States, Mexico, and 20 other countries have yet to ratify. "Internationally, this ratification means Canada can more effectively insist that trade partners like the United States and Mexico must respect and enforce labour rights," said Yussuff. "This is key as we face the prospect of the renegotiation of NAFTA." At home, Yussuff said, ratification will help reinforce recent decisions by the Supreme Court of Canada that protect union rights. "Those Supreme Court decisions are binding in all of Canada's courts and tribunals, and now provincial and territorial governments will be expected to conform under Convention 98 as well, and Canada's unions will work hard to ensure they do," said Yussuff.
News Article | May 19, 2017
From now on, Bangladesh will take care of the remediation of more than 4,000 garment factories on its own, at least according to state minister for labour and employment, Mujibul Haque. He said at the the inaugural ceremony of the Remediation Coordination Cell in Dhaka last Sunday that the the tenure of the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety need not to be extended - both are running out next year. “The remediation of all garment factories must be completed as quickly as possible, and the Remediation Coordination Cell will make a major contribution to this goal,” said Mujibul Haque at the event. The new Remediation Coordination Cell (RCC) is a national initiative, which will monitor and coordinate the post inspection remedial work at Bangladesh's garment factories from now on and thus the safety of millions of garment workers. It is supported by the International Labour Organization (ILO) with funding from Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. However, initially the RCC will focus on only 1,293 factories but according to the ILO, this number is likely to rise as new factories are established and enter the national initiative and others exit the Accord or the Alliance. It would be useful if the new initiative would cover those factories that so far slipped through the net of either initiative. The RCC will be staffed and supported by members of local regulatory bodies like the department of inspections for factories and establishments, the fire service and civil defense, the public agency responsible for coordinating urban development in Dhaka (RAJUK), the chief electrical inspector and the public works department. They will be supported by private sector engineers who will provide technical expertise for remediation follow-up. However, there was no mention if the RCC would - like the Bangladesh Accord and the Alliance - address issues that go beyond worker safety and remediation efforts but that are no less crucial for improving the RMG sector in Bangladesh. Current concerns are fair wages for garment workers, health care for workers and their families and initiatives like (anonymous) helplines where workers can report all kinds of problems like sexual harrassment at the workplace, violence and intimidation tactics, financial abuse and others.
News Article | May 18, 2017
When the UN unveiled the new sustainable development goals two years ago, it was the one on inequality that captured everyone’s attention. Goal 10 – “reduce income inequality within and among countries” – was let in at the 11th hour after a long fight by civil society groups in the face of fierce resistance. And it’s a timely intervention. Income inequality within countries has increased (pdf) virtually everywhere as a result of globalisation. And over the past 50 years the per capita income gap between the global north and south has roughly tripled in size, according to World Bank data. Reversing these trends is crucial to restoring stability to a world shot through with crises. Goal 10 calls for a number of important reforms: improving social protections, reducing fees on migrant remittances, regulating global financial markets, and so on. But one stands out as particularly compelling, and that is the call for better wages. This move vindicates a longstanding demand by developing countries. For decades, a group of scholars from the south have argued that the global wage gap is a major driver of inequality between poor countries and rich countries. And they don’t just mean the obvious fact that different wages translate into different standards of living. They mean that, through the mechanism of international trade, the wage gap also actively produces inequality. It was the Egyptian economist Samir Amin – a well-known critic of neocolonialism – who first articulated this argument in the 1970s. He noticed that if we look at the labour that goes into producing goods for trade between south and north, we see that workers in the south are paid much less than their northern counterparts - even when adjusted for productivity or units of output per hour. This means that when the north buys goods from the south, they pay far less than those goods would otherwise be worth. In other words, the north effectively siphons uncompensated value out of the south – it buys cheap and sells dear. But when the south buys goods from the north, on the other hand, they have to shell out for the north’s comparatively high wages. Amin called this “unequal exchange”, and described it as a hidden transfer of value from south to north. How big is this transfer, exactly? Amin suggested we might calculate the scale of unequal exchange by comparing the south’s existing earnings through trade to what they would be earning if we lived in a fairer world – one where the labour that goes into producing goods for trade was paid equal wages for equal productivity. Using this method, Amin calculated that in the 1960s, at the end of the colonial period, the south was transferring about $22bn to the north each year, or $160bn (£123bn) in today’s dollars – twice the amount of aid and foreign investment they were receiving during the same period. Following this logic, the scale of unequal exchange has only worsened over the intervening decades. Economists Zak Cope and Timothy Kerswell recently updated Amin’s calculations for 2012, and found that the south’s transfers due to unequal exchange had risen to an eye-popping $1.46tn (£1.13tn) per year, outstripping foreign aid by a factor of 11. This is a conservative estimate, they add. It assumes that southern workers are far less productive than their northern counterparts; but the productivity gap may not be as big as we think. In fact, southern workers are probably at least as productive since these days many of them work in foreign-owned factories (think of Apple’s iPad factories) with highly efficient technology and rigid Taylorist rules, designed to extract as much as possible from every movement. If this is true, then the hidden transfer of value may be as large as $4.9tn (£3.8tn) each year. Most neoclassical economists don’t see this as a problem. It’s only natural, they say, that workers in poor countries like Bangladesh earn less than workers in rich countries like Britain. In a world of free movement we might reach wage equilibrium, but in a world of rigid borders wages will fall in line with national economies. This makes intuitive sense, on the face of it. But the problem with this approach is that it ignores the political forces that determine wages. It’s easy to see how this works in our own countries. We know that institutional sexism and racism keep the wages of women and ethnic minorities artificially low. And we know that wages go down when right-wing politicians pass anti-union legislation or cut welfare and working standards. And then there are extreme examples like apartheid South Africa, where the whole legal regime was designed to keep African labour cheap and exploitable, allowing the white minority to pump uncompensated value out of black bodies for their own enrichment. The same thing happens on the international stage. Take colonialism, for example. Colonial policy in most countries was designed to force people into the labour market, by kicking them off their land or imposing crushing taxes, leaving them with no choice but to work in European industries where employers could get away with paying rock bottom wages – when they paid wages at all. And because colonial powers could dictate the rules of trade, they were able to depress the prices of exports from their colonies, which in turn put downward pressure on wages. After colonialism, western powers often intervened to topple pro-worker leaders in the south – like Salvador Allende, Mohammad Mossadegh, and Jacobo Árbenz – replacing them with rulers who would keep labour cheap and exploitable. During the 1980s and 1990s, structural adjustment programmes imposed by the IMF caused wages to collapse across the south. Today, many trade agreements compel developing countries to restrict unions and worker protections. And because globalisation allows companies to move easily across borders, employers can chill their workers’ wage demands by threatening to pull up stakes and move somewhere cheaper. All of this conspires to keep wages in the south artificially low. And it doesn’t help that developing countries have the deck stacked against them at the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO. Because rich countries have all the power in these institutions, they get to make the rules that shape export prices and wages in the rest of the world. The point is that wages are not somehow naturally low in the south – they have been made low by design. Wages are an effect of power. Goal 10 understands this, and takes steps in the right direction. For example, it highlights the crucial fact that developing countries need a real voice at the World Bank, the IMF, and the WTO, which would allow them to negotiate for policies that protect their workers and treat their exports fairly. It also calls for easier movement of labour across borders. But aside from this it is vague on how we should go about bettering wages in the south. There’s an obvious solution: a global minimum wage. If capitalism is going to be globalised, it makes sense that we should globalise the rules and standards that protect people from it as well. Economist Thomas Palley recommends a floor set at 50% of each country’s median wage, so it would be tailored to local economic conditions and cause minimum disruption to comparative advantage. The International Labour Organization has already proven that they have the capacity to manage such a system. And it would make good sense to couple it with a universal basic income. By allowing people to opt out of exploitative jobs, a basic income would force employers to raise wages – and would provide a crucial cushion for the workers who will soon be displaced by the rising tide of automation. These ideas are not only feasible, they are quickly gaining traction. Implementing them will require a political struggle, to be sure. But if we want to stop the global inequality machine, it’s a battle we’ll have to fight. Join our community of development professionals and humanitarians. Follow @GuardianGDP on Twitter.
News Article | May 24, 2017
The governments of the European Union, the United States, Bangladesh, and Canada met with the International Labour Organization (ILO) to review progress made in improving worker rights, health, and safety in Bangladesh, four years after signing on to the “Bangladesh Sustainability Compact” after the Rana Plaza factory disaster. Meeting on 18 May in Dhaka, Bangladesh, the event marked the third formal “follow up” to the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact, which aims to address concerns over working conditions. According to the joint conclusions issued after their discussions, while advances have been seen in some areas, more work remains. For example, the conclusions cited trade union registrations; improvements made by the agencies which inspect factories; and investments made to support worker safety in factory settings. However, it also made calls for additional progress in some key areas. For example, the group cited the “urgent need to further address acts of discrimination against trade unionists, and to effectively investigate and prosecute unfair labour practices in a timely and transparent manner.” Furthermore, it also raised “recent distressing events in Ashulia,” in an apparent reference to worker protests late last year that led to arrests and dismissals. The compact “partners” referred to the need for the “criminal complaints pending against the concerned social partners… be reviewed urgently to ensure due process of law.” Another issue raised was ensuring that the people who work in “export processing zones” (EPZs) have legal rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining, noting that legislation in the Asian country on labour rights in these zones is still pending. The Sustainability Compact was launched in July 2013, following the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in 2013 which left1129 people dead. (See Bridges Weekly, 11 July 2013) The Rana Plaza tragedy called into question not only factory practices in Bangladesh, but also whether more can be done by countries and companies that purchase those products in pushing for better labour conditions. Many of the goods produced in the Rana Plaza factory was tied to retailers such as Walmart, Primark, and Mango, among others, according to the non-profit Clean Clothes Campaign. The factory disaster prompted a series of discussions and initiatives aimed at addressing labour rights, improving building safety, and prompting more responsible company practices. Exports of Bangladeshi “ready-made garments” (RMG) total several billion dollars per year, with women making up the bulk of the sector’s four million employees. The apparel industry accounts for 83 percent of total exports from the Asian economy, according to the World Bank. The Washington-based agency has also noted that the Bangladeshi apparel trade can be a major source of new jobs, so long as the appropriate safety steps are taken, along with measures to boost productivity. Four years after the industrial tragedy, stakeholders are reflecting on what lessons to draw and how to continue building safeguards into the Sustainability Compact to protect against violations of labour rights. In a March 2017 letter to the Bangladeshi government from the European Commission, which was referenced by the European Parliament, the Commission asked for “sufficient, substantial, meaningful progress together with a sound and time-bound strategy.” Meanwhile, EU Ambassador to Bangladesh Pierre Mayaudon has reported “quite significant progress has been made” and that Bangladesh has done “fantastic” work adopting the Sustainability Compact, according to comments cited by the Financial Express. Separately, in an ILO newsletter released in February, Director-General Guy Ryder also commented on the progress in Bangladesh following a four-day visit to the country last year. “Since 2013, Bangladesh has come a long way to make its garment industry safer and to improve working conditions. We can be positive about the progress made but the job is not yet finished,” said Ryder. ICTSD reporting; “Sustainability Compact: EU finds Bangladesh’s ‘fantastic’ progress,” DAILY SUN, 8 May 2017; “Rana Plaza actual and potential donors listed by G7 country,” CLEAN CLOTHES CAMPAIGN, 1 June 2015; “Social dialogue key to workers’ safety: EU envoy,” THE FINANCIAL EXPRESS, 8 May 2017; “Bangladesh Apparel Exports Can Create More Jobs: World Bank,” THE WORLD BANK, 2 May 2016; “Four years after one of the worst industrial accidents ever, what have we learned?” THE WASHINGTON POST, 24 April 2017; “1,600 garment workers in Ashulia sacked over unrest,” DAILY STAR, 28 December 2016.
News Article | May 4, 2017
Governments need to take measures to protect children from harmful work in small-scale fisheries and aquaculture, say the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO). According to a guidance document published jointly by the two UN agencies, almost every country has signed international conventions to protect children, but many have not translated these agreements into national legislation.
News Article | May 4, 2017
In Malawi, some 37 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 17 are involved in labour. Most of them work in agriculture, in areas such as crop production, fisheries and livestock. Much of this work is hazardous and presents both health and safety risks for the children, who often work long hours for little or no pay. In addition to their health, labour also affects the children’s futures because it interferes with their right to receive an education. Many child labourers do not go to school or, if they do, the strenuous work makes them too tired to learn the skills they need to improve their lives. While Malawi does have policies on child labour, these deal more with industrial labour and commercial agriculture and do not adequately address child labour in subsistence agriculture and the informal economy. An FAO programme promoting “decent rural employment” in Malawi and its northern neighbour, the United Republic of Tanzania, helped raise awareness of the impact of child labour on rural development. As a result of this and related work undertaken by FAO with partners, Malawi has developed and endorsed a rich Framework for Action to prevent and reduce child labour in agriculture. Promoting “decent rural employment”, as the name implies, is about more than just creating opportunities for employment. It is about upgrading the quality of existing jobs or creating new ones that empower rural people and lead to decent levels of income and a secure and healthy working environment. A three-year FAO programme, implemented in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and launched in Malawi and the United Republic of Tanzania in 2011, is working at the policy level to raise governments’awareness that providing decent rural employment will pay back in extremely important ways. As people improve their livelihoods and have more secure futures, they will also contribute to improved food security and poverty reduction, and be more able and willing to manage natural resources in a more sustainable manner. These ideas have resonated with policy-makers. In its first two years, FAO provided technical support to 36 national policies, strategies and programmes, on issues ranging from Malawi’s child labour to its National Youth Employment Creation Programme,and from the United Republic of Tanzania’s National Agriculture Policy to its Fisheries Sector Development Programme. Most of world’s poor live and work in rural areas The statistics from the rural areas of developing countries underscore the importance of focusing on decent rural employment in any effort to alleviate poverty and improve food security. Consider that rural areas of developing countries are home to 75 percent of the world’s poor, that more than half of them are aged 25 and below, that 86 percent of rural people rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, that less than 20 percent of them have access to social protection and, in the majority of cases, that they work in an informal economy. Governments often fail to recognize that 60 percent of all child labour is in agriculture, mostly unpaid family labour, which is not well-covered by child-labour laws. Regulations to protect workers often focus on industry and factory workers, leaving agricultural workers with less protection. The FAO focus on decent rural employment has raised policy-makers’ awareness of the impact of child labour on a nation’s future and the importance of providing solutions for small-scale producers, trapped in a cycle of poverty and child labour. The cycle begins when poor families put their children to work instead of sending them to school. The children remain unskilled, unable to find jobs, run productive farms or start their own businesses. Less able to provide as adults, they put their own children to work to meet household needs,and the cycle of poverty continues. FAO uses Integrated Country Approach FAO uses an Integrated Country Approach (ICA) to promote decent rural employment, meaning it brings together government ministries such as agriculture and labour, but also includes farmers’ federations and unions. The goal is to have all of these stakeholders recognize the importance of – and work together to create an enabling environment for providing – decent rural employment. Through this, FAO promotes investment in children as the future pillars of the national labour force. Recognizing the multifaceted aspects of decent rural employment, FAO pulled together diverse specialists from across the Organization to address the specific needs of stakeholders and partners. Known now as the FAO Decent Rural Employment Team (DRET), experts in areas such as gender, labour rights, child labour and youth employment provide technical advice to Malawi and the United Republic of Tanzania for incorporation into their policy frameworks. With support of DRET and in collaboration with the FAO Fisheries Department, Malawi has designed a new National Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy (2013-2018) that recognizes social development and decent work as essential to ensuring sustainable livelihoods in the fisheries sector. It also calls for a reduction in the number of child labourers engaged in hazardous work. The team provided technical support to the government in creating a corresponding implementation plan. In Malawi, the team’s work with the International Partnership for Cooperation on Child Labour in Agriculture led to the endorsement of a rich Framework for Action, which marked a significant breakthrough in having the highest level of political support for broad steps to prevent and reduce child labour in agriculture.
News Article | May 4, 2017
In September 2013, armed members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) attacked the City of Zamboanga. This resulted in a deadly stand-off with Government soldiers for 19 days. The siege displaced more than 120 000 people, including indigenous peoples and households that depend on fishing and seaweed farming for a living. Three years after the violent siege, many households in coastal communities are finally finding the courage to rebuild their livelihood and strengthen their resilience to disasters. Through the Peace Building Fund of the United Nations, FAO and the International Labour Organization (ILO) have been working in Zamboanga City to provide livelihood recovery assistance to small-scale fishers and seaweed growers who were affected by armed clashes. For residents in some of the conflict-affected communities in Mindanao, the armed struggle between government forces and rebels is more than just a clash of ideologies. It is a test of their resilience. “All the people here in Zamboanga City went through poverty. We struggled. Like us here, we could not go out to sea to fish,” said Norhamblo Sagales, a fisher and the tribal chief of the Sama-Badjao ethnic group in Arena Blanco, Zamboanga, as he describes their condition of his community after the violent siege in 2013. Supporting livelihoods recovery Through the Peace Building Fund of the United Nations, International Labour Organization (ILO) and FAO have been working in Zamboanga City to provide livelihood recovery assistance to small-scale fishers and seaweed growers, primarily women and youth members who were affected by armed clashes. In close collaboration with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the city government, FAO distributed seaweed production start-up kits and livelihood training to around 450 seaweed farming and fishing families. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and financial institutions like KFI Center for Community Development Foundation, a microfinance institution helping local farmers and fisherfolk, also facilitated market access for the products developed by fisher households covered by the project. “They gave us what we really needed: tools for fishers like us and inputs for seaweed growers”, says Sagales. The support also included better seedling varieties. “Before, harvest was [usually done] within 30 to 40 days. Now, with better seedling varieties, we can do that in 20 to 25 days. The [livelihood] training also helped us a great deal in teaching us how to do business,” explained Baisan Nasakil from Barangay Leha-leha, Zamboanga City. Recognizing the role of women In recognition of their important role in improving household incomes, FAO also provided alternative livelihood opportunities for women. A total of 200 women from different community organizations were trained in good manufacturing practices for fish post-harvest handling and processing, preservation and value-adding of fish and related products. As a result, women now have the means and the skills to start small businesses in processed seafood. “Because of this, I learned that fish [seafood] can be prepared in many different ways like tempura, dumplings and mixed with seaweed pickles. With the help of FAO, we also became stronger in facing tragedies that come our way because we now know better how to rise again,” affirmed one of the project’s beneficiary, Hanina Maldiza from Taluksangay, Zamboanga. FAO has also been assisting the city government in building awareness on coastal fisheries and resource conservation and management. Conrado Dizon, FAO Fisheries Consultant, explains that “providing alternative sources of livelihood to people in coastal communities also reduces the burden on the fish resources as an economic fallback. Fisherfolk will no longer feel the need to resort to active fishing if there are other sustainable ways to earn.” Next Steps? With support from FAO, four women’s associations have since registered with the DTI. The formal registration enabled them to acquire labels for their products, in turn allowing them to enter into mainstream markets and formally engaging in the processing and trading of value-added fish products. Before the project closed, an additional five cooperatives were endorsed to DTI for registration and acquisition of product labels. Additional four women’s organizations, specifically engaged in seaweed farming, are now earning as traders of dried seaweed products in partnership with the KFI Center for Community Development Foundation. An additional 16 seaweed farming women’s associations were also linked with micro-financing organizations, to provide them with access to capital and other resources.
News Article | May 4, 2017
In the wake of the fourth anniversary of the tragedy in Bangladesh, ultimately the question comes up if the garment industry has changed since then and if yes, what has changed. This is a tricky question to answer as not all changes are tangible and as a reporter who has followed the developments since the and in the run-up to Rana Plaza, just saying 'I don't know, it feels like the industry has come a long way in the past four years' would not really cut it, true as it may be. For the longest time, I could not put my finger on what really has changed other than the obvious fire, safety and structural inspections, which are doubtlessly important steps. But that is not all that has changed. Rana Plaza certainly put Bangladesh and the plight of its large garment workforce on the map, true. But what really has changed was summed up in a quote I read in a recent article by the International Labour Organization (ILO) titled "Refusing to throw in the towel on factory safety in Bangladesh" about a terry towel producer and exporter on the outskirts of Dhaka. “Clients don’t just want a supplier, they prefer a partner,” explained factory owner of Towel Tex, Md Shahadat Hossain Sohel, about why it is important for him to comply with safety regulations. And that's when it struck me, the biggest change, which is not tangible - the mindset. Buyers and suppliers are on their way to becoming long-term partners, not just short-term business associates who may or may not try to pull a fast one on each other in the quest for ever cheaper garments or better deals. It is almost as if international buyers have realised that their suppliers are people too - with problems, dreams and hopes - and not an anonymous apparel-producing machine on the other end of the earth, while suppliers have realised that safety standards are not a nice-to-have but a must and that they and the costs associated with them will be absolutely worth it in the long run. “The cost of remediation work can be high, but in the overall scheme of things it is worth it. At the end of the day, it is my factory not theirs. Although buyers don’t raise their rates to account for safety improvements, I have to be the one to make sure that the workers are safe and cared for,” added Sohel. This is not to say that true partnerships have not existed before Rana Plaza - they certainly did but they have been the exception, shiny beacons of hope in a sea of cut-throat deals and ever quicker turnaround times rather than the rule. In view of a changed mindset and appreciation of lasting business contacts that bring humanity back into human relations, that is a change worth writing home about.
News Article | February 27, 2017
Genetic markers for regional cultivars persist in cotton fibers and can be detected in our proprietary assay STONY BROOK, NY--(Marketwired - February 27, 2017) - Applied DNA Sciences, Inc. ("Applied DNA," "The Company,") ( : APDN), a provider of DNA-based supply chain, anti-counterfeiting and anti-theft technology, product genotyping and product authentication solutions, announced today that it has identified lead genetic markers that are unique to certain cotton cultivars grown in Uzbekistan, where forced human labor is used to cultivate the cotton. To date, the biomarkers have been tested in raw and ginned cotton. The testing of yarn and finished textiles is forthcoming. Applied DNA is looking for partners to aid in halting forced labor in cotton fields, while facilitating a global collaboration in identifying and highlighting Uzbek cottons that are harvested by modern machinery specifically without forced labor. The Company offers a molecular tagging and authentication service to brands and retailers who want to exclude adulteration by forensically proving the origin of their cotton. The platform is based on a unique molecular tag, known as "SigNature® T", applied at the point where locally grown cotton is ginned, and forensically authenticated at each stage of the supply chain to allow traceability for fibers to finished goods back to their origin. To date, multiple brands and retailers have SigNature T-tagged over 150 million pounds of US-grown cotton. Applied DNA proposes that machine harvesting and modern ginning be introduced to the Uzbek cotton industry as soon as possible, perhaps funded by governments, NGOs and the global cotton industry. Molecular markers supplied by the company could ensure that every relevant fiber is recognizable as free of forced labor. In collaboration with leaders within the cotton industry and cotton research, Uzbek cotton fibers could be introduced to the global market as a superior upland cotton, untainted by ethical compromise. Said Dr. James Hayward, President and CEO of Applied DNA: "Even if a retailer's brand were surreptitiously adulterated with Uzbek cotton, the damage to their equity would be irreparable. When combined with a program of molecular tagging at the source, our products and services can de-risk supply chains for every cotton retailer, brand and manufacturer." According to the Cotton Campaign, every year the Uzbek government forces more than a million Uzbek citizens -- including teachers, doctors and nurses -- to work long hours picking cotton for state-run industries under threat of penalties, including loss of their jobs or education. The government of Uzbekistan operates the largest forced-labor system of cotton production in the world. There is no region in Uzbekistan excluded from this system, so no Uzbek cotton is free from forced labor. Kirill Boychenko, Coordinator of the Cotton Campaign at the International Labor Rights Forum, stated: "DNA technology can help businesses and regulators enhance traceability and transparency in global supply chains. Applied DNA's advances in molecular tagging and cotton genotyping can provide technical guidance on cotton produced with forced labor from countries like Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan that can then be used by brands, retailers, supply chain intermediaries and law enforcement to ensure responsible sourcing." More than 250 brands and retailers have signed, "The Cotton Pledge," promising not to knowingly source cotton from Uzbekistan. Growing consciousness of unethically-produced cotton among consumers is apparent in the results of a recent Harris Poll: roughly three in five Americans (61%) say if they discovered a brand made their bedding/clothing products from raw cotton that was picked by child/forced laborers, they would no longer purchase from that brand. The United States recognizes Uzbek cotton as a product made with forced labor and has stopped goods made with Uzbek cotton at the border under a law prohibiting import of goods made with forced labor. The California Transparency in Supply Chain Act requires businesses to report their efforts to combat forced labor in their supply chains. The Modern Slavery Act in the United Kingdom requires businesses that trade in at least £36 million in goods a year to report what steps, if any, they are taking to address forced labor in their supply chains. Until today, however, there has been no mechanism to discriminate fibers of Uzbek origin. Andrew Wallis, OBE, the catalyst behind the Modern Slavery Act, and Founder and CEO of Unseen, a UK charity that works towards a world without forced labor stated: "The innovative use of technology by Applied DNA Sciences to tackling some of the world's most complex problems -- transparency in supply chains and modern forced-labor abuses -- is to be applauded." Earlier this month, the French Parliament adopted a much-awaited law, which applies only to French companies, enforcing a "public vigilance" for corporations of their supply chains, for human rights and the environment. Similar laws are under consideration in Switzerland and the Netherlands. Uzbekistan is one of the largest exporters of cotton; sixth in the global economy. The countries that import the largest quantities of Uzbek cotton are also the countries that rank among the largest suppliers of finished textiles to the USA and UK, such as Bangladesh and China. Hidden labor rights abuses in global supply chains are increasingly being scrutinized by consumers, governments and intergovernmental organizations. It can be challenging for global brands to determine potential risks at every stage of the complex supply chains inherent in goods produced with cotton. This new technology offers companies aiming to minimize risk an opportunity for ensuring cotton made with forced labor from Uzbekistan does not slip into the goods they buy and produce. Recently, in a report submitted by the International Labour Organization (ILO), a United Nations Agency, to the World Bank, third-party observations made clear that progress against forced labor in Uzbekistan is making significant strides. Uzbekistan has phased-out organized child labor, and the "risk has been reduced to the point where child labour (sic) has become socially unacceptable." However, forced labor does remain a risk for higher-level students, the staff of public and private agencies, and the staff of medical facilities. We make life real and safe by providing botanical-DNA based security and authentication solutions and services that can help protect products, brands, entire supply chains, and intellectual property of companies, governments and consumers from theft, counterfeiting, fraud and diversion. Our patented DNA-based solutions can be used to identify, tag, track, and trace products, to help assure authenticity, traceability and quality of products. SigNature® DNA describes the platform ingredient that is at the heart of a family of uncopyable, security and authentication solutions such as SigNature® T and fiberTyping®, targeted toward textiles and apparel, DNAnet®, for anti-theft and loss prevention, and digitalDNA®, providing powerful track and trace. All provide a forensic chain of evidence, and can be used to prosecute perpetrators. We are also engaged in the large-scale production of specific DNA sequences using the polymerase chain reaction. Go to adnas.com for more information, events and to learn more about how Applied DNA Sciences makes life real and safe. Common stock listed on NASDAQ under the symbol APDN, and warrants are listed under the symbol APDNW. The statements made by APDN in this press release may be "forward-looking" in nature within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements describe APDN's future plans, projections, strategies and expectations, and are based on assumptions and involve a number of risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond the control of APDN. Actual results could differ materially from those projected due to our short operating history, limited financial resources, limited market acceptance, market competition and various other factors detailed from time to time in APDN's SEC reports and filings, including our Annual Report on Form 10-K filed on December 6, 2016, and our subsequent quarterly report on Form 10-Q filed on February 9, 2017, which are available at www.sec.gov. APDN undertakes no obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statements to reflect new information, events or circumstances after the date hereof to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events, unless otherwise required by law.