HM The Queen's speech at "Business and Children's Rights"

Rio +20 Corporate Sustainability Forum, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

(The spoken version shall take precedence)

Distinguished participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Children are our past, our present and our future. All children have rights, everywhere and at all times. And all children's rights are equally important and interrelated.

Children's rights are also closely linked to social structures and access to education. Phenomena linked to children's rights are; human trafficking, crisis situations as a result of war, unrest or natural disasters, children in armed conflict and child soldiers, drug-trafficking, prostitution and sex tourism or street children.

Increased attention is being paid to the role of business in society. Children are key stakeholders of business — as consumers, family members of employees, young workers, and as future employees and business leaders. Children are key members of the communities and environments in which business operates.

There is a greater awareness of the links between business and human rights in general, and children's rights in particular. The explicit focus on the impact of business on children is also timely. Children are among the most marginalized and vulnerable members of society. Sufficient food, clean water, and care and affection during a child's developing years are essential to his or her survival and health.

Business, whether small or large, will interact with and have an effect on the lives of children both directly and indirectly. Examples include children working illicitly in the supply chain, children on or around company premises, children employed as domestic workers in employee housing, children exposed to business products, children arrested and detained by security services and children of migrant workers left at home.

But business can influence social and environmental conditions positively through responsible business practice. The Children's rights and Business principles give business guidance in this regards.

By integrating respect and support for children's rights into the core strategies and operations, they can strengthen their existing corporate responsibility practice, while ensuring benefits for their business. Such efforts can build reputation, improve risk management and secure their social license to operate.

A commitment to the wellbeing of children can also help recruit and maintain a motivated workforce. Considering how products and service meet children's needs can also be a source of innovation and create new markets. Working for children helps build strong, well-educated communities that are vital to a stable, inclusive and sustainable business environment.

We are here to bring our knowledge, talent and enthusiasm to the Children's Right. And we should all have the courage to desire a better world to leave to our children.

Nobody is too small to contribute. Every person and company can make a commitment to support the Children's Rights and promote the implementation of the Business Principles.

In January 2010 together with my family – the King of Sweden, the Crown Princess Couple, Prince Carl Philip and Princess Madeleine — we initiated the World Child & Youth Forum.

The aim of the World Child & Youth Forum is to create a forum that raises awareness of the UN Convention on the rights of the child and to help inspire more people to take initiative.

The more of us there are working for a common goal, the stronger we become. We should be able to draw strength from each other. I therefore hope we can utilize the World Child & Youth Forum for inspiring dialogues on how raise awareness and implement the Children's Rights and Business Principles.

To conclude, I would like to acknowledge the work by Save the Children, the UN Global Compact and UNICEF for developing this comprehensive framework of principles.

I hope the principles can serve as inspiration and a guide for all business in their interactions with children. I applause you to take on the important subject of Business and Children's rights.

I wish you good luck in today's discussions.