Research to Action II (RTA II): Using Knowledge to Inform Action for the Elimination of Child Labor and Forced Labor

Project Duration
December 2023
December 2027
Funding and Year

The Research to Action II initiative will improve information-sharing between researchers and decision makers on child labor, forced labor, and other labor rights issues. It will strengthen statistical and research capacities of partner governments and other stakeholders, produce research and research tools, and coordinate with policy makers on a shared research agenda to advance labor rights, with a focus on child labor and forced labor.

The Problem

Child labor forced labor and other violations of fundamental principles and rights at work persist worldwide. As of the 2020 global estimates, 160 million children are in child labor, representing nearly one out of every 10 children. It is estimated that nearly half of those children are engaged in hazardous child labor. Global progress to reduce child labor has stalled in recent years; sub-Saharan Africa has seen an increase in rates even while other regions continue to decline. Additionally, there are an estimated 27.6 million people in forced labor, or roughly 0.35% of the world’s population. Here too we see backsliding, as these figures represent a 2.7 million increase from 2016 to 2021.

Policy actors still face gaps in understanding where child labor and forced labor are occurring and how best to end it. In particular, there is very little research on forced labor. Adequate evidence and knowledge are essential to ensuring that policy choices for addressing these violations are sound, effective, and sustainable.

Our Strategy

When the technical foundation for data collection and research on child labor, forced labor and other Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (FPRW) issues is established, and capacity for such activities is strengthened, it leads to a more robust evidence base on the extent, nature, causes, and consequences of FPRW violations, as well as on the responses addressing them. This, in turn, facilitates the mobilization of knowledge through collaboration with stakeholders in laws, policies, plans, and programs targeting FPRW violations, resulting in more effective, evidence-based actions. Ultimately, this accelerates progress towards ensuring fundamental principles and rights at work for all workers. To implement this strategy, the project is designed around four inter-related outcomes:

  1. Improved research methods and support to data collection

    Utilize innovative research methods and support data collection, such as small-area estimation, rapid assessments, time-use approaches, and artificial intelligence, for country- and region-specific research.

  2. Strengthened capacity for ethical research and data collection on FPRW issues

    Provide, improve and expand access to the MAP16/RTA trainings on data collection and policy-relevant research on FPRW issues through user engagement, partnerships with governments, and technical support to relevant stakeholders.

  3. Expanded evidence base to inform policies and interventions on FPRW

    Identify knowledge and policy gaps by updating the RTA Evidence Gap Maps, Bibliography, and Research Agendas; leverage existing impact evaluations in the RTA Research for Policy Guidance tool and the RTA Impact Evaluation Catalogue, as well as secondary datasets to inform ‘what works’ in promoting FPRW.

  4. Increased engagement and improved knowledge mobilization

    Engage the research community to address knowledge gaps identified from the RTA Research Agendas through fellowships and seed grants and conferences; improve the accessibility and understanding of research through the RTA Research for Policy Guidance tool.

International Labor Organization (ILO)
Contact Information:
(202) 693-4843 / Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking (OCFT)
Child Labor
Capacity Building
Evidence-Based Policymaking
Forced Labor
Knowledge Gaps
Knowledge Platform
Policy-Relevant Research
Research Agenda
Research to Action
Small Grants
Supply Chains