Over recent decades, Brazil has seen a boom in large-scale investment projects, mainly due to the Growth Acceleration Program (PAC), a massive federal investment in infrastructure development implemented from 2007. The country’s economic stability, especially in the 2000s, also fostered private investments in, for example, mining, the installation of new manufacturing plants and the expansion of production chains to further regions.
Such projects constitute a challenge for local development. Small municipalities and the surrounding areas hosting these developments are usually ill-prepared to manage the rapid changes brought by them, because of fragile social organization and lack of strong institutions. Migration, mainly by male workers, higher income basis, and pressure on infrastructure, services, social organization and natural resources bring long-term social and human rights challenges, not only for state actors but also for entrepreneurs.
In this context, children and adolescents are frequently one of the most vulnerable groups, therefore in need of extra care. This is reinforced by the Brazilian Statute of the Child and Adolescent (ECA), which considers both groups an ‘absolute priority’, meaning that state, but also private and civil society’s, policies and actions concerning this group shall always come first. Despite the law, measures designed to prioritize children and adolescents’ human rights and to prevent their violations are not always included in both risk assessment and management by the organizations in charge of investment projects.
This trend might be changing in Brazil as some recent court decisions have held businesses accountable for the direct and indirect impacts of their activities and products on children and adolescents' rights. One example is the construction of the Corinthians Arena, the football stadium built in the city of São Paulo for the 2014 World Cup where the Labour Public Attorney’s Office suggested to all companies involved in the construction that, considering the great concentration of male workers, preventive measures be taken in order to avoid sexual exploitation of individuals under 18 years of age who at that time were living in the region.
It is in consideration of this gap—between guaranteeing priority and full protection to children and adolescents—that this piece presents a corporate tool designed to facilitate the incorporation of children and adolescents’ full protection guidelines into business processes and practices. In addition, two corporate experiences are presented.
Published by Business and Human Rights Journal, 2 (2017), pp. 171-176