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Hostile Environment: The nexus between modern slavery and environmental destruction
Modern slavery and environmental destruction are concurrent crises – but what if they are more interrelated than we ever imagined?

This session is the first in a series curated by the Freedom Fund exploring the nexus between modern day slavery and environmental destruction. From the devastating deforestation of the Amazon, the mining industry’s decimation of protected areas in the Congo to the fishing sector in South-East Asia, slavery is inextricably interwoven with some of the worst environmental destruction on the planet. Yet, this connection remains one of the most under-researched topics.

Join the Freedom Fund, Environmental Funders Network and Ariadne Network for a discussion exploring how modern day slavery and environmental destruction weave together, and how by better understanding the interlinkages, we have a possible route to protecting both the most vulnerable people in the world, and some of the world’s most vulnerable ecosystems.

Apr 20, 2021 02:00 PM in London

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Kevin Bales, CMG
Research Director of the Rights Lab, and Professor of Contemporary Slavery @University of Nottingham
Going undercover to meet slaves and slaveholders for his book Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, Kevin exposed how modern slavery penetrates the global economy and into the things we buy. The film based on his book, which he co-wrote, won the Peabody Award and two Emmys. In 2016 his research institute was awarded the Queens Anniversary Prize, and in 2017 Queen Elizabeth awarded him a CMG for his work to end modern slavery. In 2001 he co-founded Free the Slaves, an NGO that has liberated thousands of slaves worldwide. His latest book, Blood and Earth, explores the deadly link between slavery and environmental destruction. At the Rights Lab, he’s currently engaged in using satellites to identify the location of slavery crime, working with governments to estimate the true extent of slavery within their borders, exploring the application of machine learning to modelling situations of slavery; and analysing and exposing the links between slavery and armed conflict.
Leonardo Sakamoto
Journalist @Repórter Brasil
Leonardo Sakamoto is a Brazilian anti-slavery activist, journalist and founder of Repórter Brazil, an NGO dedicated to the fight against slavery and human trafficking. Since 2003, it has tracked down the supply chains of more than 700 farms, charcoal camps, sweatshops and construction sites. His work has led him to showcase stories of scientists, peacemakers, innovators and humanitarians who are transforming the lives of people around the globe. He wrote the II Brazilian National Plan for the Eradication of Slave Labor and was on the board of the UN Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery. He teaches journalism at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo and was visiting scholar in the Politics Dept at the New School for Social Research, NY. Sakamoto has authored many scientific articles and books, including “Contemporary Slavery” (2020). He writes daily about politics at UOL, the largest Brazilian news portal.
Maggie Gardner
Managing Director, Partnerships and Development @The Freedom Fund
Maggie Gardner is the Freedom Fund’s Managing Director for Development and Partnerships. Over her 30 years’ experience of working in international development, she has led climate change campaigns and projects aimed at strengthening ethical supply chains. When she joined the Freedom Fund in 2020, she was struck by the absence of discussion between the mutual vulnerabilities of poverty and environmental destruction. Reading Kevin Bales’s book was eye-opening and she therefore set out to both bring the issues to a wider public as well as encourage greater research, exploration and debate.