How to remove child labour from the cocoa supply chain

Practical examples by 4 pledgemakers that are making change in the sector

We’re highlighting some of the 2021 Action Pledges we’ve received. Get inspired by these short stories about how governments, UN agencies, NGOs, universities, organizations, tripartite partners, and many more are joining the global movement for children.

How has COVID-19 exacerbated child labour in the cocoa sector?

Growing anecdotal evidence sheds light on how the crisis is affecting children. Many children have been newly pushed into child labour or forced to endure more difficult work circumstances, including in the cocoa sector.

For example, according to the latest Global Estimates, 263 communities in Côte d’Ivoire found a significant increase in child labour in cocoa businesses from July to September 2020, compared to the same period 12 months earlier.

How can we address risks in cocoa supply chains?

Child labour and other human rights risks are most often worst within informal micro- and small enterprises that operate at the lower tiers of supply chains. They are easily overlooked in favour of larger companies’ bottom lines.

Governments can lead through public procurement that discourages child labour risks in vendor supply chains. In addition, responsible business and purchasing practices can help keep firms afloat and reduce child labour through, for example, long-term supplier contracts, clarity on future contracts, and capturing the true production costs and market values of products and services.

Here’s what some of our pledge makers are doing:

Ferrero International

Ferrero International is an Italian manufacturer of branded chocolate and confectionery products, based in Luxembourg.

Its 2021 Action Pledge aims to scale and strengthen activities to protect children in Ferrero’s cocoa and hazelnut supply chains, specifically in Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Turkey, by working with non-profit organizations and other partners.

“The project will work with ILO tripartite constituents to support knowledge sharing about what works to address child labour, particularly in the hazelnut supply chain, and to maximize learning opportunities.”

Throughout the year, in West Africa, Ferrero will implement programmes to assess risks, protect children, and provide activities including education, capacity building, and community development. Meanwhile, in Turkey, Ferrero will conduct a needs assessment, raise awareness among authorities, and prepare for the harvest alongside trained stakeholders.

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International Cocoa Initiative

The International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) is a Geneva-based nonprofit, funded by major chocolate makers, that focuses on addressing child labour in cocoa production in West Africa.

Its 2021 Action Pledge aims to help its members align around good practices and to implement systems that prevent and address child labour in cocoa-growing communities. It also aims to continuously monitor and improve those systems.

“Research shows that where cocoa-growing communities have been supported by systems and interventions that are being rolled out to prevent and address child labour, child labour has fallen. Our pledge focuses on scaling up those systems to cover more of the cocoa supply chain.”

Throughout the year, ICI will scale up the coverage of specific programmes designed to tackle child labour.

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Millennium Child Support Group

The Millennium Child Support Group is a humanitarian relief organization based in Ghana.

Its 2021 Action Pledge aims to redouble its efforts to ensure that no child is subjected to child labour or exploitation in Ghana, especially in the cocoa-growing areas of the country.

“We pledge to use community sensitization, training, skills and knowledge to cascade strong child labour prevention and remediation measures down the supply chain.”

Throughout the year, the organization will expand access to free, quality public education as a logical alternative to child labour, set up more networks and volunteers to monitor farming activities in remote communities, and strengthen the cocoa-growing community through training and other activities.

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WCF – CocoaAction Brasil

WCF – CocoaAction Brasil is a nonprofit founded and launched by leading members of Brazil’s chocolate and cocoa sectors to address sustainability issues.

Its 2021 Action Pledge aims to promote sustainable cocoa production that is child labour-free by implementing guidelines and action plans for Bahia and Para, the two main cocoa-producing states.

“We will fulfil our pledge by increasing awareness of the importance of the issue throughout the whole cocoa chain, aligning agenda, priorities, and actions, and communicating the results and achievements with the cocoa sector in Brazil.”

Throughout the year, the organization will implement a structured set of actions in economic, social, and environmental areas, including technical assistance for growers, facilitating access to credit, and public-private workshops to address child labour and decent work.

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