dormakaba News, Sustainability

Together against child labor: dormakaba enters into a long-term partnership with Save the Children Switzerland

Thursday, 27 June 2024

Together against child labor: dormakaba enters into a long-term partnership with Save the Children Switzerland

Rümlang, 27 June 2024 – dormakaba has agreed on a partnership with Save the Children Switzerland, part of the world's largest independent children's rights organization. This includes financial support for a pioneering project to overcome child labor in cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). dormakaba is the first company in Europe to support this project. Over a period of ten years, dormakaba will invest around one million Swiss francs to support the project’s objectives.

The partnership with Save the Children Switzerland and the related direct, long-term support of the project to fight child labor in the DRC evolved against the background of the company's Statement of Commitment on Human Rights and a study commissioned by dormakaba from the University of St. Gallen on the traceability of cobalt. This was published by dormakaba in July 2023 to highlight the need for responsible supply chains and to share possible solutions with other companies. The study’s key findings show that leading experts and organizations agree that no company sourcing electronic components can be sure that some of the cobalt in its products does not come from the DRC. This is where 70% of the cobalt mined worldwide originates from. Human rights organizations point out that forced labor, labor exploitation, child labor, health, and safety problems and other human rights violations can be prevalent in DRC mines.

dormakaba is aware of these issues and is committed to fighting child labor and forced labor in its supply chains as part of its approach to sustainability and due diligence. dormakaba is the first company in Europe to support this initiative in partnership with Save the Children Switzerland, which supports affected children and young people in mining centers in the DRC and provides long-term remediation. The partnership is set to run for ten years. Save the Children's subsidiary organization, The Centre for Child Rights and Business is responsible for implementing and coordinating the project on the ground. Children and young people working in cobalt mines are reintegrated into school or vocational training programs to afford them new opportunities. The project offers monthly living stipends, covers all educational and possible medical costs up to the age of 16, and provides each child with a case manager who supports the family and looks after the child's interests.

"We are thrilled to partner with Save the Children Switzerland and work with The Centre for Child Rights and Business. The partnership reflects our commitment to tackling potential child labor in even the most remote parts of our supply chain. It underlines our commitment to adhere to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and emphasizes the importance of transparent and responsible supply chains," says Stephanie Ossenbach, Group Sustainability Officer of dormakaba.

"We are delighted to have dormakaba as a partner who has made a long-term commitment to combating child labor in artisanal small-scale mining. The partnership is an important step in our efforts to provide children around the world with protection and access to quality education," says Adrian Förster, CEO of Save the Children Switzerland. "We welcome dormakaba's commitment to be part of the solution when it comes to child labor. Together, we are tackling the challenges of artisanal small-scale mining directly and sustainably and offering children in the DRC the chance for a better future," adds Ines Kaempfer, CEO of The Centre for Child Rights and Business. 

About Save the Children Switzerland
Every child deserves a future – whether in Switzerland or around the world. With this conviction, Save the Children Switzerland has been uncompromisingly and tirelessly supporting the most disadvantaged children since 2006. Save the Children has been the world's leading children's rights organization since 1919. Thanks to our local roots in 120 countries, we know the situation on the ground, adapt our projects accordingly, and can help immediately in an emergency. In Switzerland, we have been helping refugee children since 2015.

About The Centre for Child Rights and Business
The Centre is a social enterprise that supports and advises leading international companies in implementing children's rights, ESG, and human rights due diligence to deliver improvements within their supply chains and yield positive business outcomes. 

About cobalt mining in the DRC
In the mining centers of the DRC, in addition to numerous official large-scale mines in the country, there are also many independent small-scale mines in which the mining work is only carried out manually (artisanal small-scale mining). These small-scale mines provide a livelihood for around 200,000 people and account for 10-30% of the world's cobalt supply. The cobalt from these small-scale mines often ends up in the supply chain of larger mining companies. As many people in artisanal small-scale mining are affected by extreme poverty, a lot of children drop out of school to work there or do so to pay for school and supplement household income. Some estimates suggest that up to 40,000 children work in the mines in the DRC. Working in this sector exposes children to extreme danger, long-term health risks, exploitation, and a cycle of perpetual poverty.

More about dormakaba's approach and initiatives on human rights topics: Human Rights - Annual Report 2022/23.

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