Australian magnate Andrew Forrest launched a new, anti-slavery organisation yesterday at the Vatican, which has attracted worldwide attention.
The Global Freedom Network extends on Forrest’s campaign against slavery with the Walk Free Foundation by garnering the united support of Catholic, Anglican and Sunni Muslim religious faiths.
The inaugural ceremony at the Vatican was joined by religious leaders Pope Francis, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, to sign an agreement as members of the Global Freedom Network leadership council.
In his address at the event, Forrest said that this new alliance will spread the campaign against slavery to churches and mosques around the world.
"I ask, ladies and gentlemen, for your prayers now as the work of the Global Freedom Network in its unprecedented historical nature goes forward and does reach out successfully to the 162 countries which are measured in the Global Slavery Index," he said.
Objectives of the new organisation include getting the G20 to condemn modern-day slavery, persuading 50 major corporations to commit to slavery-proofing their supply chains and convincing 160 governments around the world to endorse a seven-year, $100 million fundraising effort to implement anti-slavery programs.
The Global Slavery Index, released by the Walk Free Foundation in 2013, ranks countries according to prevalence of slavery by population, child marriage, and human trafficking across borders.
The index revealed estimates that 29.8 million people are enslaved worldwide, with 16 million enslaved in India and Pakistan, which prompted Forrest in January to declare that he would free 2.5 million slaves in Pakistan.
Forrest recently struck a deal with the Pakistan government to introduce regulations against slavery, leveraged by an agreement to provide new technology developed at Curtin University, for converting lignite coal into diesel.
The mining magnate has used his influence to persuade governments that it makes good financial sense to abolish slave labour.
“We have absolute economic proof that once you take slavery out of a community, that community grows and grows”, he said.
Forrest is currently ranked 270th on the Forbes World’s Richest People list, and has pledged half of his wealth to charity and philanthropic pursuits.