Andrew Forrest walks up to CEOs and confronts them with the ugly truth: You may be a slaveholder. The Australian billionaire, who founded Fortescue Metals, one of the world’s largest iron ore producers, has spent years trying to convince anyone who will listen that slavery thrives in the modern world—and that they need to do something about it.
Since confronting the practice in his own company’s supply chain, Forrest has been on a mission to abolish forced labor and human trafficking. This year, he made it to the United Nations.
A special panel of world leaders addressing global slavery was chaired by U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday on the sidelines of the General Assembly and was attended by UN Secretary General António Guterres and senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump, among others.
Seated next to Forrest, the president’s daughter told leaders that global slavery was the “greatest human rights issue of our time” and that ending trafficking was a “top priority” of Donald Trump’s administration. May announced that the British government was doubling its spending on anti-slavery measures to $200 million and, of that, pledged $27 million to the U.S.-based Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, a public-private partnership that launched this year and aims to raise $1.5 billion.
Given the scale of the problem, it’s a modest effort so far. But it “was unthinkable probably six months ago, let alone six years ago,” Forrest said in an interview. “We had to explain the whole concept of modern slavery.
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