Ground-breaking Research Sheds New Light on Development Aid to Address Forced Labour, Modern Slavery, Human Trafficking, and Child Labour

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  • 2018•09•14     New York

    13 September 2018, New York — Thirty countries together committed more than USD 4 billion in development aid to address modern slavery, forced labour, human trafficking, and child labour between 2000 and 2013, according to a new report released by the United Nations University (UNU) today.

    The report, “Official Development Assistance and SDG Target 8.7: Measuring Aid to Address Forced Labour, Modern Slavery, Human Trafficking and Child Labour”, was undertaken by Delta 8.7 – The Alliance 8.7 Knowledge Platform, a project of the UNU Centre for Policy Research (UNU-CPR). It offers the most detailed and robust analysis available about countries’ development spending commitments to achieve Target 8.7 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With Target 8.7, 193 countries pledged their commitment to take effective measures to eradicate forced labour, modern slavery, and human trafficking by 2030, and child labour by 2025.

    The report analyses and visualises how official development assistance (ODA) — government aid that promotes and specifically targets the economic development and welfare of developing countries — was committed, by whom, on what and where.

    “In order to understand progress being made towards achieving Target 8.7, it is important to identify where resources are being committed,” said Dr Kelly A. Gleason, Delta 8.7’s Data Science Lead and coauthor of the report. The report finds that the average annual global ODA commitments to address Target 8.7 exploitation increased significantly from around USD 119 million in 2000 to around USD 430 million in 2013.

    The report uses new data sets and draws on an innovative research methodology that the authors argue can be used to develop an even more detailed picture of anti-slavery and anti-trafficking spending in future. A new language processing algorithm was developed to analyse an official data set of more than 1.2 million aid projects, identifying more than 6,000 aid projects directly related to Target 8.7 between 2000 and 2013.

    Dr Gleason explains: “Human coders are usually tasked to process this type of text-based data, which can be incredibly time consuming. Automating the data selection process allowed us to manage and compile a very large amount of data in a highly efficient manner, while still providing a high-quality sample of project-level ODA spending.”

    “This new data set and the patterns it reveals point to important questions about how governments decide where to spend taxpayers’ money to address forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour,” said Dr James Cockayne, Director of UNU-CPR and co-author of the report. “Our research suggests the need for donors to discuss how they record and track their spending, and how they can best coordinate their spending to maximize impact.”

    The report calls for more robust data coordination and tracking of ODA commitments to strengthen the tracking of progress towards Target 8.7. In addition, the report highlights the need for sharing and centralization of ODA and non-ODA spending, which would help researchers and policy actors to determine how spending is relating to impact and outcomes, and begin to identify the “effective measures” required to reach Target 8.7.

    The report is the first research product of Delta 8.7, a knowledge and research platform developed by UNU-CPR as a contribution to Alliance 8.7, a global multi-stakeholder effort to accelerate progress towards Target 8.7. Delta 8.7 also includes a global, online knowledge platform that will be launched on 24 September 2018. Delta 8.7 will provide a hands-on learning experience for policy actors and help them understand and use data and evidence to adopt policy responses that contribute to achieving Target 8.7.

    The full report and interactive graphs are available at

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    • This research draws on a set of 1,252,036 aid projects in ODA-eligible countries provided by AidData, based on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) Creditor Reporting System (CRS). From this data set an innovative natural language processing algorithm was used to identify more than 6,000 aid projects directly related to Target 8.7 between 2000 and 2013.
    • This report is an original research publication of Delta 8.7 – The Alliance 8.7 Knowledge Platform. Delta 8.7 is funded by the UK Modern Slavery Innovation Fund (MSIF). This report was produced independently of the MSIF and any views expressed within are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the British Government.

    Press contact:

    Emily Cholette, Communication, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Officer at Delta 8.7: +1 (347) 404-3062

    Delta 8.7 – The Alliance 8.7 Knowledge Platform

    Delta 8.7 is a contribution to the Alliance 8.7, which is a global partnership for eradicating forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour around the world. The Delta 8.7 project helps policy actors understand and use data responsibly to inform policies that contribute to achieving UN SDG Target 8.7. It does this by bringing together the most useful data, evidence and analysis through, an online knowledge platform, and offline events.

    The online launch of Delta 8.7 – The Alliance 8.7 Knowledge Platform will be on 24 September 2018.

    UNU Centre for Policy Research

    The United Nations University Centre for Policy Research (UNU-CPR) in New York is an independent think tank within the United Nations system. It combines research excellence with deep knowledge of the multilateral system to generate innovative solutions to current and future global public policy challenges.