Daimler AG

03/12/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 03/12/2019 03:58

Education to counter child labor – Daimler supports a social project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with over one million euros

  • Objective: Better living conditions in the mining region of Kolwezi (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
  • Project enables more children to attend school, and furthermore comprises the development of sustainable farming as well as the strengthening of the local community
  • Renata Jungo Brüngger, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, Integrity and Legal Affairs: 'We are supporting the social structures in the region, in order to meet our social responsibility in the mining of raw materials.'
  • Wilko Stark, member of the Divisional Board of Management Mercedes-Benz Cars for Procurement and Supplier Quality: 'Sustainable supply chains are a guiding principle for our corporate success. To this end, we are in close contact with our suppliers, and conduct risk-based audits on site right down to the mine level if necessary.'
  • Long-term cooperation agreed with the NGO Good Shepherd International Foundation until 2022

Stuttgart. Daimler AG is committed to sustainable solutions for the mobility of the future. This also applies to electric mobility and the supply chains for battery cells. An important component in this regard are clean cobalt supply chains - from the cobalt mine to the cell supplier. Over 60 percent of the world's cobalt extraction comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is here, in particular between the mines and smelters, that there is a heightened risk to human rights, for example the risk of child labor. In addition to auditing the mines and smelters and with a view to counteracting such risks effectively and continuously, social projects aimed at improving the livelihoods of the people in the region surrounding the mines have proven to be most effective in producing sustained change. This is why Daimler has started a project together with the organization Good Shepherd International Foundation (GSIF). The project's objective is to not only improve the situation on an individual level and the community level, but rather to improve the living conditions of more than 19,000 people in the mining region of Kolwezi (Democratic Republic of the Congo) by 2022. To this end, Daimler AG is contributing more than one million euros to the organization's work over the next four years.

The support for the project is independent of Daimler's initiatives in cobalt supply chains and is designed to lead to sustained improvements throughout the region. In doing so, the company is also reacting to impulses from its stakeholder dialogs, for example, from NGOs and development workers. Daimler has developed its own measures for respecting human rights in its cobalt supply chains. With its Human Rights Respect System, risk-based audits and subsequent improvement measures, the company is pursuing a systematic approach to prevent human rights abuses such as child labor to the greatest possible extent.

Renata Jungo Brüngger, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, Integrity and Legal Affairs: 'We are supporting the social structures in the region, in order to meet our social responsibility in raw material extraction. Our engagement is aimed at creating the foundations for long-term change. That includes children attending school and improving the economic conditions for families. GSIF is a strong partner in this regard, who has an established network in the region and has a large amount of experience. The project is a meaningful addition to our own measures, especially the Human Rights Respect System with which we also seek to avoid human rights violations in our supply chains.'

Wilko Stark, member of the Divisional Board of Management Mercedes-Benz Cars for Procurement and Supplier Quality: 'Sustainable supply chains are a guiding principle for our corporate success. To this end we are in close contact with our suppliers, and conduct local, risk-based audits right down to mine level if necessary. Moreover, by creating alternative livelihoods, we want to improve the situation in the surrounding communities and support GSIF for that reason.'

GSIF is a non-profit organization founded by the Good Shepherd sisters, an international congregation present in 73 countries, to support their programs for children, girls and women focusing on poverty eradication and elimination of all forms of discrimination and violations of human rights.

Cristina Duranti, director of GSIF: 'Our model of intervention in Kolwezi cannot fully succeed without partners like Daimler. This joint project will support durable and sustainable social change for the people of Kolwezi, creating viable alternatives and a more secure livelihood to mining. It will also promote and protect the basic human rights of those living in the cobalt mining communities. We've seen that only by integrating human rights and community development, can we begin to eradicate child labor and achieve sustainable improvements in the living conditions of thousands of Congolese in the region.'

The joint project by GSIF and Daimler AG rests on five pillars. One of these is the creation of alternative livelihoods, especially for women, e.g. by creating sustainable agriculture projects or work as seamstresses or tailors. Furthermore, Bon Pasteur creates safe spaces in the communities for young girls and women, where they are protected from violence and exploitation and have access to educational programs and health care. Another focus of the project is to encourage children to give up working in the mines and attend school. They are cared for through age-appropriate programs lead by social workers, teachers, psychologists and nurses. The fourth pillar of the project aims to strengthen local communities for greater cohesion among the local population. The fifth pillar assists the personnel and material resources of GSIF-Bon Pasteur in Kolwezi, so as to implement the project effectively and monitor changes on a sustainable basis.

In 2012, GSIF developed an approach to improve the living conditions of women and children in the Kolwezi region. In the first stage of the development program, the non-government organization was able to reach a total of 5,000 local people between 2013 and 2015. Over 90 percent of the children cared for in the pilot project gave up working in the mines. In the process, GSIF gained a great amount of local experience which now also benefits the new project.

Sustainability is one of the basic principles in the corporate strategy of Daimler AG. This also includes the responsible procurement of raw materials. Accordingly Daimler has developed a systematic approach for the protection of human rights, the Human Rights Respect System (HRRS). As one of the important measures, the company identified raw materials potentially associated with human rights risks. The aim is to gradually make the supply chains for these risk-prone raw materials more transparent, and to apply appropriate, risk-based measures. Moreover, Daimler is involved in initiatives such as Drive Sustainability to improve the sustainability in supply chains. Especially in view of the expected increase in demand for raw materials in electric vehicles, Daimler attaches great importance to a sustainable raw material supply chain. In supporting the social project with Bon Pasteur in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the company is extending its existing activities by a further important measure.

The project together with GSIF is part of the 'Daimler WeCare' initiative. As a globally operating corporation, Daimler does its part in advancing the social and societal development worldwide. In 2018, the company supported various projects as part of its corporate citizenship engagement with some 66 million euros in total.