This week, the non-profit organization Grace Farms Foundation released “Design for Freedom,” a report calling for the eradication of modern slavery in the architecture, construction and design industry.
By addressing the systematic use of forced labor within the building supply chain, the report aims to spur an ethical movement via actionable steps for change.
The Design for Freedom working group contains over 60 industry leaders who have committed to working to eradicate materials produced using forced labor in their supply chains, adjusting procurement processes that may support unethical systems and advocating for policies to support migrants.
As reported in Forbes, the movement aims to draw inspiration from the way that, after a wave of support swept through the design world less than three decades ago, sustainability has now become common practice.
Speaking to Forbes, Grace Farms Foundation CEO and founder Sharon Prince stated:
“While sustainability is prioritized across the architecture, engineering and construction industries, we do not see ethical, slave-free supply chains anywhere on the industry’s agenda.”
Attention to forced labor in the design sector initially focused on developing ethical labor practices on job sites; however, the industry is increasingly realizing that forced labor extends far deeper, to the systems by which building materials are produced.
The Design for Freedom Movement calls on its members to lead by example, ensuring their procurement practices avoid all unethically sourced or produced materials.
As Jing Liu and Florian Idenburg of SO-IL write:
“Sometimes architects and designers forget that design entails producing a collection of instructions to rearrange our material world’s makeup. We fail to realize that every line a designer or architect draws sets into motion a string of actions that have environmental, social, and ethical repercussions…good design must go beyond good intentions.”
The working group aims to use its power and expertise to advocate for expanded regulations against slavery, with the ultimate goal of sparking a movement for change that results in legislation ensuring the eradication of modern slavery throughout the built environment.