Earth Shattering: Financial Engagement at the Nexus of Modern Slavery and Natural Resources in Africa

Promoting synchronized action to tackle risks and abuses in cocoa production and gold mining value chains in Ghana.

A collaborative project between UNU-CPR's FAST initiative and UNU-INRA, 'EarthShattering' built on the analytical framework and recommendations contained in the FAST’s Blueprint for Mobilizing Finance Against Slavery and Trafficking to engage the financial sector, government, and multilateral officials, as well as high-risk and vulnerable populations – including survivors of modern slavery.

This project considered ways the financial sector, governments, and multilateral actors can synchronize action to tackle risks and abuses in value chains by considering the specific case of labour practices in natural resource industries of cocoa production and gold mining in Ghana. The project also explored how specific megatrends (COVID-19, climate change, debt and the creation of the African Continental Free Trade Area) may have further exacerbated these risks and make financial sector mobilization on these issues all the more crucial.

Africa is estimated to be the region with the highest prevalence of modern slavery in the world, as well as the highest risk of vulnerability. Vulnerability is more likely to be acute in contexts of weak governance, or where there are unmet needs, inequality, disenfranchisement, and conflict. These structural factors are exacerbated by race, gender, class and caste, as well as unfavourable market conditions, poverty and lack of opportunity.

Ghana was Africa’s leading gold mining country in 2019. One-third of Ghana’s gold is from artisanal and small-scale mining. It is also the world’s second-leading producer of cocoa. However, its two major sectors with high foreign exchange earnings (gold mining and cocoa production) are marred by exploitative labour practices. It is therefore particularly important to consider these industries in the context of Ghana, given its heavy reliance on these industries for growth, and the employment it provides to local populations. This could provide important insights for other sectors and country contexts.

This project demonstrated that effective, differentiated action guided by the FAST Blueprint’s Goals is not only possible, but is also an effective way of addressing modern slavery in particular contexts and sectors of economic activity.

Research outputs:

Suggested citation: Earth Shattering: Financial Engagement at the Nexus of Modern Slavery and Natural Resources in Africa : UNU-CPR, 2024.