Why invest in children?

Linda Forsell

Greg Priest, Head of Sustainability Policy at IKEA Group, explains why investing in children is important for business.

1.  What do you see as the key global challenges regarding children's rights?

- The migration of workers, both within countries and across borders can have a profound negative effect on children and families. This is both during the time parents are separated from their children and through debt that can occur due to unethical recruitment practices. Of course, many migrant workers are youth themselves, which requires a special focus on their needs and development.

2. How can companies contribute to achieve the goals?

- We think a company can contribute to these goals through all aspects of its business. At IKEA we see sustainability as one of the cornerstones of our future business success. The goal is to have a positive effect on both people and the environment which is outlined in our sustainability strategy. This means incorporating sustainability into all business activities, through our product range, our sourcing activities, our use of resources and energy and having a positive impact on the people and communities impacted by our business.

3. Why should you, as a company, invest in children’s rights?

- What is in the best interest of children is in the best interest of business. We know that the positive development of children strengthens communities and society as a whole. This leads to greater economic and social development which creates a strong environment for sustainable businesses to meet the needs of people in those communities. Investment in children is an investment into the future of the company and society.

4. Could you please give a brief example of an area where you can connect directly to children and have an impact?

- A good example of how IKEA can improve the lives of children is through our initiatives on cotton. Our aim has been to support the development of a sustainable supply of cotton. Through our partners and the Better Cotton Initiative we have worked to reduce the use of harmful chemicals and pesticides, a decrease of the use of water, and an increase the profit margins farmers in some of the poorest cotton producing regions.  This of course has a positive impact on the health and financial situation of the families and their children.  This also benefits IKEA and our customers by ensuring a sustainable supply of cotton for years to come. 

5. What do you see as the benefits of states, companies and NGO's working together to achieve the goals?

- This cooperation is critical. Each of these stakeholders of course have their own responsibilities and areas of influence, but also key competencies and expertise that is required for any project to be successful at scale and in the long term.

6. And the challenges?

- Quite often the goals of each organization will have core similarities and differences. The challenges are to ensure that each of these are clear to all involved and that the differences can be handled without jeopardising the end result.