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Modern Slavery, Environmental Destruction, and Climate Change: A Scoping Workshop

  • Room 1-03 11 Bedford Square London, WC1B 3RF (map)
Cambodian brick kiln (December 2017) Photo by Thomas Cristofaletti

Cambodian brick kiln (December 2017) Photo by Thomas Cristofaletti

In this exploratory workshop our aim is to interrogate how environmental change, manifested as climate change, resource depletion or ecological catastrophe, is interlinked with the rise of precarious, informal work across much of the Global South today.

Building on research which documents a longer history of such work in these regions, this workshop aims to address how a newly evolving context of climatic and environmental vulnerability is deepening forms of insecurity for labour. It particularly looks to the emergence/ resilience of bonded labour, or other forms of ‘modern-day slavery’, as a result of this, as well as the role that insecure/precarious labour plays in perpetuating global environmental destruction and the climate crisis.

THE PROGRAMME (please see our blog for full abstract information):

9 – 9.30am: Registration

9.30 – 10.15am: Welcome by Professor Katherine Brickell, Keynote talk by Professor Kevin Bales

10.15 – 10.45am: Coffee break

10.45 – 12.30: Panel one, Conceptualising, defining and measuring

Doreen Boyd, ‘Slavery from Space: Informing the Slavery/Environment Nexus; Resulting in the Antislavery Ecosystem’

Ayushman Bhagat, ‘Exploring vulnerabilities created through post-disaster anti-trafficking interventions’

David Brown, ‘Opening up the Nexus between Climate Change, Environmental Destruction and Modern Slavery: A Review of Literature’

Chaired by Mike Perry

12.30 – 2pm: Lunch

2 – 3.15pm: Panel two: Modern slavery in forests, fisheries, and factory

Maureen Lempke, ‘Comparative study of the links between trafficking in persons and environmental degradation associated with deforestation’

Jess Sparks, ‘Slavery in Marine Ecosystems’

Laurie Parsons, ‘Blood bricks: Climate change and modern slavery in Cambodia’

Chaired by Nithya Natarajan

3.15 – 3.45: Coffee break

3.45 – 4.30: Panel Three: Modern slavery and current and emerging agendas

Andreas Chatzidakis and Deirdre Shaw, ‘Modern Day Slavery: Consumer Perspectives’

Steve Trent, 'Pirates and Slaves - Forced, Bonded and Slave Labour in the Seafood Sector'

Chaired by Chris Ives

4.30 – 5.30pm: Wrapping up and final remarks.

6pm: Move to The Perseverance pub nearby for drinks/ food (63 Lambs Conduit Street, WC1N 3NB)

The scoping workshop is organised by the Department of Geography, Royal Holloway University of London in collaboration with the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham. It builds on cross-institutional interests identified in active projects led by the two universities.

The Department of Geography, Royal Holloway of London is currently undertaking research funded by the ESRC-DFID Poverty Alleviation programme (September 2017-February 2019) entitled ‘Blood Bricks: Examining the Climate Change-Modern Slavery Nexus in the Cambodian Construction Industry’. The primary objective of this study is to better understand the dynamic interaction between climate change, different axes of structural inequality (e.g. gender, age), and vulnerability to trafficking into modern slavery.

The Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham is home to the world’s leading modern slavery experts who are delivering the world’s first large-scale research agenda for ending slavery. The Rights Lab’s challenge-led approach fuses cutting-edge research with real world application. The Lab is working with governments and NGOs to achieve a Freedom Dividend: the global benefits of ending slavery for economies, rights, health, peace and the environment. It is the latter that underpins the theme of this workshop.

The workshop is supported by the Office of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner (IASC).