With the increase of large-scale projects in Brazil, researchers Aron Belinky and Livia Menezes Pagotto of the GVces Center for Sustainability at FGV-EAESP share a guide for companies on how to generate shared value from the full protection of children and adolescents.
Children, Adolescents and Large-scale Projects in Brazil. With kind acknowledgements to GVces
In recent years, Brazil has experienced a boom in large projects, mostly leveraged by the PAC (Growth Acceleration Program), but not limited to it. They range from huge construction sites, such as the Belo Monte hydroelectric power plant, to smaller interventions, which, however, still affect the territories where they are located. There are roads, ports, railways, hydroelectric power plants and others. Large urban interventions have also occurred, either as a way to try to solve historical issues in our big cities, or as a consequence of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games. Besides, the private sector has invested and carried out large projects, such as mineral exploration, installation of new manufacturing plants, or the extension of their production chains to other regions in the country.
Many of these projects are carried out in vulnerable territories, where the State is barely present, and are inhabited by groups, families or individuals who are more exposed to the risk of unemployment, poor working conditions, poverty and lack of social protection. It is important to note that vulnerability does not exist only in areas that are distant from urban centers; it may exist, for instance, on the outskirts or in other areas in big cities.
Much of these investments, particularly on the energy sector, have been made on the North of the country, especially in the Amazon region. Historically, due to its more recent occupation, the territories in that region lack institutional resources and a strong public sector, and part of the population is still in vulnerable conditions. We must also consider that the region hosts traditional populations such as indigenous people, maroons, riparian populations and other communities whose organization and lifestyle are closely related to their natural environment. In this context, large projects affect local economic activities, as well as the sense of belonging, identity and cultural bonds. On the other hand, if carried out with proper care, they may be the answer to many social issues and human rights violations.
When it comes to social vulnerability, one of the groups that are most exposed to risks are children and adolescents. Children and adolescents who are in vul nerable conditions are more intensely affected by social inequality, poverty and social exclusion. This is reflected in violations of their rights and weakening of family ties and other areas of socialization, such as schools and others. They ultimately have to abruptly make the transition from childhood to adulthood, and keep suffering with the lack of access to education, work, health, entertainment and culture. With no perspective on the future, they are exposed to many forms of exploitation, which may include child labor, youth labor in extremely poor conditions, and sexual exploitation.
When a large project is started in a vulnerable territory, it may significantly affect this scenario. It is extremely critical, as established by law, that absolute priority is granted to protect children and adolescents, not just to guarantee their rights, but also as a strategy for local development and overall human rights protection.
As democracy advances in the country, the social role of various actors has changed and, along with the rights granted, new responsibilities emerged. This is also true for businesses, who should seek to build new competencies and innovate in their management. The attitude of the organizations concerning these challenges will make the whole difference to either convert them into new opportunities and gains for the business, or into obstacles and charges. Proactive companies that are open to dialogue with society will have clear advantages in this scenario.
It is in this context that the Center for Sustainability Studies (GVces) of Sao Paulo Business Administration School at Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV-EAESP), Childhood Brazil and the Center for Businesses and Human Rights at GV Law School joined forces to discuss children and adolescents’ full protection in territories affected by large projects. Specifically focused on the role of companies, the purpose was to offer guidance on how businesses can prepare, through joint participation with other stakeholders, the territories that host large projects, in order to guarantee full protection of children and adolescents.
This work sought to assess different perspectives to handle the full protection issue. Specifically, we tried to balance three axes:
- Local development
- Full protection of children and adolescents
- Corporate social responsibility.
Download the full guide HERE.
- Link up with Aron Belinky and Livia Menezes Pagotto via LinkedIn
- Visit the GVces Center for Sustainability website
- Read a related article: 4 hotspots for technology to fight child labor
- Discover the learning opportunities at FGV-EAESP Brazil.
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