Anti-human trafficking group shoots for the Moon on #MyFreedomDay

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin walks on the moon on July 20, 1969, after the first lunar landing. (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center photo)
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The Moon Goal Program aims to streamline the “fragmented and often inefficient” response to forced labour and rid supply chains worldwide of modern-day slavery.

Photo: Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin walks on the moon on July 20, 1969, after the first lunar landing / NASA Marshall Space Flight Center photo.

This year, Matt Friedman is shooting for the moon.

As the chairman of Mekong Club, a Hong Kong-based NGO dedicated to combatting human trafficking, Friedman is determined that his newest initiative will make a difference in the city and around the world.

The idea of the Moon Goal Program was spearheaded at the Stop Slavery Summit in 2018, where Friedman proposed the eradication of forced labour from supply chains within a decade’s time. The program, launching today, aims to hit its ambitious target by 2030.

Part of the program outlines a five-step roadmap outlined in Mekong Club’s report for the private sector to follow that could free 16 million modern slaves from supplier networks, which includes “[building] a clear and common understanding of modern slavery and why business must respond” and “equipping counter-slavery actors with the information they need to act effectively, efficiently and decisively against modern slavery”.

The Mekong Club’s Moon Goal Program sets out to eliminate forced labour from supply chains by 2030 / The Mekong Club.

“Like the US space programme before it set the goal of putting a man on the moon, our response to modern slavery today is fragmented and often inefficient,” Friedman said.

“We believe that establishing a highly ambitious – yet achievable – goal for ending modern slavery will bring together these disparate efforts and free millions of people from exploitative labour practices, while not forcing business to choose between what is right, what is sustainable and what is profitable.”

In Hong Kong, there are no laws that specifically address human trafficking or forced labour. 

Last year Friedman told Harbour Times, “Up until now, LegCo has repeatedly indicated that they do not need a specific law that addresses human trafficking or forced labour … They indicate that existing criminal laws address this issue.” 

Catching up with him this year, Friedman has indicated that there has been no change as the government has been preoccupied with the aftermath of the protests and COVID-19.

CNN’s #MyFreedomDay 2021, taking place on 16 March, will include the stream of a virtual panel featuring students and experts across Asia / CNN.

The launch of the Moon Goal Program aligns with #MyFreedomDay, a CNN-organised global event on 16 March that educates students and raises awareness of the issue. This year, CNN hosted a virtual panel with students from Hong Kong International School and five other schools across Asia and included HK experts from Mekong Club and Fair Employment Foundation. The panel, called ‘The Choices You Make, the Actions You Take’, highlighted forced labour in the textile and seafood industries. Footage from the panel will be available today on CNN’s website at 9 AM HKT and on CNN International from 12 PM HKT.

As part of #MyFreedomDay, students can take a pledge to end modern slavery, which involves starting their own “freedom chains” by sharing their commitment on social media with the associated hashtag and nominating three other friends to do the same.