Research

Measurement and Geographies Programme

How many people are enslaved in the world and where are they?

To tackle modern slavery, we need to know how many people are enslaved, where they are and their geographies. Robust measurement and analysis give us the foundations from which to build effective action: governments need to be able to measure slavery prevalence in order to design and resource appropriate policy responses; an accurate understanding of the location and prevalence of slavery can help NGOs plan more effective programmes on the ground; and businesses benefit from understanding slavery prevalence linked to particular commodities.  

In our Measurement and Geographies Programme, geographers, political scientists, sociologists, mathematicians, environmental scientists, development studies experts and business systems specialists have made globally recognised advances in measuring the risk and prevalence of modern slavery and understanding the geographies in which modern slavery occurs. Geographies of modern slavery offer an understanding of what drives modern slavery and its impacts in space and time. Using a mixed methods approach, including machine-learning, scenario modelling, qualitative surveys and citizen science, we measure and contextualise slavery.  

For example, our Slavery from Space initiative uses geospatial observation to map and measure slavery. We now estimate that more of a third of the world’s slavery is visible from space. Working with data providers, imagery analysts and AI experts, we are harnessing the value of satellite data for anti-slavery action: analysing imagery to find and predict the locations of high slavery-prevalence industries and hotspots.  

For example, we have used satellite remote sensing data to:  

  1. Provide a rigorous estimate of the number of brick kilns, known to be sites of modern slavery, across the ‘Brick Belt’ that runs across south Asia; 

  1. Assess the relationship between tree loss and modern slavery across four countries, Brazil, Ghana, Indonesia and Mozambique; 

  1. Monitor fluctuations in the location and number of informal settlements in southern Greece where migrant labourers were in conditions of labour exploitation; 

  1. Map and track artisanal cobalt mining activities known to use child labour in the Democratic Republic of Congo over a ten-year period. 

One focus for this programme is how to identify and assess the environmental impact of modern slavery and the climate change nexus. Modern slavery activities create, exacerbate, and are shaped by climate change and environmental degradation. This includes mapping the ecological dimensions of human vulnerability to modern slavery and the synchronous occurrence of environmental degradation and modern slavery in agricultural, forest, marine, and freshwater ecosystems. We identify modern slavery risk factors in specific settings, used applied social-ecological systems approach and mixed methods to construct longitudinal prevalence estimates for key sectors, and help to develop mitigation strategies.  


Programme experts

Doreen Boyd

Doreen Boyd

Description
Rights Lab Associate Director (Measurement and Geographies Programme) and Professor of Earth Observation
Siddharth Kara

Siddharth Kara

Description
British Academy Global Professor and Rights Lab Associate Professor of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery
Emily Wyman

Emily Wyman

Description
Rights Lab Impact and Methods Development Lead
Bethany Jackson

Bethany Jackson

Description
Rights Lab Senior Research Fellow in Modern Slavery and Sustainable Ecosystems
Edgar Rodríguez-Huerta

Edgar Rodríguez-Huerta

Description
Rights Lab Research Fellow in Social-Ecological Systems Modelling
Albert Nyarko-Agyei

Albert Nyarko-Agyei

Description
Rights Lab Research Fellow in Machine Learning
Renoy Girindran

Renoy Girindran

Description
Rights Lab Research Fellow in Antislavery Data and Technologies
Cristina Vrinceanu

Cristina Vrinceanu

Description
Rights Lab Research Associate in Earth Observation and Geospatial Data Science
Jess Sparks

Jess Sparks

Description
Rights Lab Senior Research Fellow in Anti-Slavery Ecosystems Data
Giles Foody

Giles Foody

Description
Rights Lab Professor of Geographical Information Science
James Goulding

James Goulding

Description
Rights Lab Associate Professor in Business Analytics
Madeleine Ellis

Madeleine Ellis

Description
Rights Lab Research Fellow in Human and Environment Interactions
Gavin Smith

Gavin Smith

Description
Rights Lab Assistant Professor in Business Analytics
Bobbie Blair

Bobbie Blair

Description
Rights Lab PhD Student in Geography
Vanessa Jaiteh

Vanessa Jaiteh

Description
Rights Lab Research Fellow in Fishing Vessel Safety and Labour Conditions
Stuart Marsh

Stuart Marsh

Description
Rights Lab Professor of Geospatial Engineering
Sabrina Li

Sabrina Li

Description
Rights Lab Assistant Professor in Quantitative Geography
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