Mr Palm's speech during the National Children's Conference ”Now I acknowledge, participate and protect myself” on 1 June 2011
I am delighted to have been asked to contribute to the opening of this children’s fair. Children are UNICEF’s business, as all of you know. As I will try to explain, children are all our business.
The exhibitions show that there are many ways to entertain children, to educate children, to bring joy to the face of children. Of course children and their parents are the present and future clients and consumer of products that businesses try to sell on make a living on. And that’s fine, because a growing economy will also contribute to eradicate poverty and create prosperity.
I just want to remind ourselves that, when we make business with children or for children, we have special responsibilities. We have to provide goods and services that are useful for children according to their development needs. We need to consider the possibility of harm when they are using our products. Many countries have codes that regulate the manufacturing of products for children – such as using paint that is not poisonous because small children tend to take things into their mouth – or avoiding small items that young children can accidentally swallow. Even in the absence of such regulations, it is good practice to consider such standards.
I suppose that everyone with children on his or her mind is committed to corporate social responsibility. Many facets of corporate social responsibility has to do with children. The type of products, their safety, and whether they are also accessible to poor children. They also have to do with providing working conditions that, for instance, allow mothers to take sufficient maternity leave or when special situations of their young children require special considerations.
Let me also remind ourselves that it is good style to give back to the community who buys your products. We have several companies in Albania who already created a foundation or charity that channels some of the surplus to projects that benefit vulnerable people. It is always a good idea, to focus such projects on helping children from disadvantaged groups to catch up, and to create opportunities for them to grow into responsible and productive citizens – and future clients of your products. I applaud those companies that have undertaken such a step.
Finally, let me express special thanks to those companies who put their core business into the service of children. Many of the business here might already be doing it, and I might not have heard about it yet, and I apologize for not mentioning those. But I just want to highlight and thank all the mobile and fixed telephone providers, who are providing free services for children calling the Albania Helpline, where these children get connected with trained specialists who listen to them, talk to them, counsel them, and if needed refer them to other local services where they can find help.
I am sure that many other businesses have found, or will find other ways of using their particular expertise, products or services to help children with a challenging background. Investments in children are smart investments, and they bring the greatest return to society as a whole.