The Monthly Briefing

A monthly digest of the latest modern slavery and human trafficking news, relevant to the business community, public sector and financial institutions

Letter to the Editor

December 2023/January 2024 Issue

In this monthly brief, we look at how climate change is increasing exploitation across sectors and how your business can take preventative action against the social consequences of climate change.

By prioritising health and safety with rising temperatures or choosing to invest in areas with strong human rights commitments, businesses can pursue their environmental sustainability strategies while also protecting workers from the adverse effects of climate change.

As always, we hope you find this newsletter useful in outlining the pertinent issues and recommendations relevant to modern slavery and your business. We would love to hear your thoughts on how we can improve our monthly brief and continue to serve you in the best way possible.


Chris Jones

Director of Commercial and Marketing


The Impact of Climate Change on Exploitation in the Agricultural Sector

Throughout 2023, the world experienced a significant number of intense heatwaves caused by climate change. These events are no longer rare and are increasingly impacting the working conditions of workers in the agriculture sector, a traditionally high-risk sector for exploitation. 

In July 2023, the southern US experienced a record-breaking heatwave, following a June that was Earth’s hottest on record. These weather events are the effects of climate change and agricultural workers are suffering from exposure to these extreme temperatures. In the US there is no federal heat standard to protect the health and safety of agricultural workers in extreme temperatures. Workers are reportedly not provided regular shaded breaks and are reluctant to take breaks for fear of losing wages as their salary is dependent on the weight they produce.

Climate change is making extreme temperatures more prevalent across the globe, impacting both crops and the safety of agriculture workers. Unregulated farm work in extreme heat is dangerous to workers as it raises their internal body temperatures when moving, lifting, and walking in high temperatures and humidity. Businesses operating in the food and agriculture sector need to be aware of climate change exacerbating the exploitative practices in high-risk sectors. Without necessary measures and governance frameworks, workers’ lives are at risk.

What can your organisation do?

  • Review health and safety policies and procedures for labour-intensive outdoor work, and update these to include protections for workers in line with extreme weather conditions.
  • Engage with suppliers and subcontractors in regions vulnerable to extreme temperatures to ensure the protection of all workers in line with your policies; regardless of whether legislation is in place on climate change.


Climate Change and the Financial System

Climate change has global impacts that will continue to intensify unless people and businesses adapt. The financial sector can help mobilise and support sustainable practices to limit the impacts of climate change and reduce the risk of climate-driven exploitation.

Whilst the world is already feeling the impacts of climate change such as heatwaves, climate induced disasters are likely to continue unless we take steps to change our practices. The impacts of climate change will continue to destroy infrastructure and disrupt livelihoods, increasing mass migration of communities. This climate induced migration often drives workers from traditionally rural agricultural sectors to urban areas where they often enter informal and high-risk sectors for exploitation. Additionally, investors need to recognise the implications these events will have on the financial sector, specifically the risk from infrastructure and property damage. Insurance policies and claims could increase at a higher frequency due to loss caused by natural disasters.

To build resilience in communities and avoid additional risks, the financial system can help mobilise resources for climate mitigation and adaptation. For example, if banks adjust their lending policies by giving discounts on loans for sustainable projects, they could support the long-term implementation of climate change disruption.

What can your organisation do?  

  • Invest and provide loans for sustainable projects, that aim to implement long term solutions and strategies to mitigate climate risk.
  • Build programmes to support vulnerable communities’ accessibility to finances, particularly as mass migration increases and these communities become at greater risk of exploitation.


Calls for the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) to Include Living Income and Fair Purchasing Practices  

70 NGOs and producer organisations issued a statement calling on policy makers to include living income and fair purchasing practices in the CSDDD, to create positive change for those most vulnerable in supply chains.

The CSDDD aims to develop sustainable and responsible corporate behaviour to tackle the cause of human rights violations and environmental harm in companies’ global value chains. This Directive establishes corporate due diligence requirements to protect those most vulnerable in supply chains.

NGOs and producer organisations have called on policy makers to go further and explicitly reference living wages and a decent standard of living as a human right.  Inclusion of responsible purchasing practices and a living income is necessary to address the root causes faced by those most vulnerable in corporate supply chains. Many companies have not adopted these practices into their operations, hence improvements in living wages will continue to be stunted without legal requirements. EU businesses should join this effort to strengthen its position with policymakers which will ultimately make positive change for those most vulnerable in corporate supply chains.

What can your organisation do? 

  • Ensure due diligence across global supply chains references and includes living wages and commitments to responsible purchasing practices.
  • Support NGOs and producer organisations, where possible, to call upon policy makers to improve legislation to drive real positive change for those most vulnerable in corporate supply chains.


New Zealand Proposes Landmark Modern Slavery Legislation

New Zealand intends to shortly follow increasing global legislation efforts by proposing its own modern slavery legislation, with requirements for businesses to report on modern slavery and worker exploitation risks in their operations and supply chains.  

Implementation of modern slavery legislation in the UK, in 2015, and subsequently Australia has been pivotal in the fight against modern slavery and exploitation in business operations and supply chains. Now, New Zealand has proposed their own legislation. Similar to the UK and Australia, New Zealand, however, intend to go further in scope and accountability for non-compliance. Under the proposed legislation, organisations with over NZ$20 million in annual revenue will be required to report on modern slavery and worker exploitation in their operations and supply chain. Reporting requirements will include the publication of an annual statement uploaded to a digital register for the public to access.

Unlike the UK and Australian legislation, if passed this law will also introduce penalties for non-compliance including publication of false information or failure to submit a statement. This legislation is yet another of the increasingly long list of new legislation being introduced globally to ensure businesses take responsibility for their role in the prevention efforts of modern slavery and exploitation.

What can your organisation do?  

  • Assign responsibility to an individual or a group for the monitoring and reporting of progress against current and upcoming global legislation.
  • Review proposed bills and legislation to establish if your organisation meets the criteria of reporting or will be expected to in the future.