EU, FAO and ILO unite to end child labour in agriculture

EU, FAO and ILO unite to end child labour in agriculture


To mark the World Day against Child Labour, the EU, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO), and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) have joined forces to organise the conference ‘United to end child labour in agriculture’, taking place today in Brussels.

It is estimated that there are 152 million child labourers worldwide, more than half of whom are engaged in the worst forms of child labour. Africa has the highest absolute number of child labourers with 72 million, followed by Asia with 62 million.

The conference, which is taking place at the Residence Palace in Brussels, will focus on a sector of particular concern – agriculture. Worldwide, 71% of child labourers work in the agriculture sector – meaning over 108 million boys and girls. Moreover, whilst the latest 2016 ILO Global Estimates suggest that child labour globally has moderately declined, there has been an increase of 10 million children in child labour in agriculture since the previous estimates from 2012.

The conference will bring together not only the EU, FAO and ILO but also a wide range of other partners, from NGOs and partner countries through to the private sector and fair trade organisations.

Attendees will reflect on progress and best practices in tackling child labour as well as the challenges and opportunities that remain. The conference panellists and workshop participants will brainstorm to formulate recommendations for a short and long term action plan contributing to end child labour in agriculture.



Child labour is defined as work that is inappropriate for a child's age, affects children’s education, or is likely to harm their health, safety or morals. Particularly in agriculture, much of the work children carry out is not age-appropriate and is hazardous and therefore might interfere with their wellbeing. For instance, when children work long hours in fields or working in areas with toxic substances, stay up all night on fishing boats, or carry heavy loads, it can interfere with their mental and physical development.

Eradicating child labour is also one of the objectives enshrined in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. SDG 8, Target 7, calls for ‘immediate and effective measures to … secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour … and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.


For more information

Programme of the event United to end child labour in agriculture

To find out more about DEVCO’s work on Employment & Social Inclusion, click here.

To find out more about DEVCO’s work on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development, click here.

For an example of an EU project to tackle child labour, read more about our Clear Cotton project.