Leading chocolate companies, the VOICE Network*, Mighty Earth, Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade have called on the European Union to strengthen environmental protection and human rights safeguards in the cocoa sector.
In a joint statement, the companies and NGOs said, “We, a group of companies (Barry Callebaut, Mars Wrigley and Mondelēz International, The VOICE Network, Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade, call on the European Union, by far the largest importer and consumer of cocoa in the world, to strengthen human rights and environmental due diligence requirements of companies in cocoa supply chains, aligned with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).
“We strongly believe that we all need to take action together to effectively address some of the systemic human rights and environmental challenges in the cocoa supply chain.
“National governments must enforce and strengthen their own labour, child protection and environmental laws, and companies have a responsibility to conduct due diligence to identify risk, jointly evaluate remediation and take action which is proportionate to their exposure to the human rights and environmental risk.
“We think an EU-wide approach to due diligence will benefit all actors in the supply chain in terms of a clear and consistent set of rules and common intent.
“The EU should negotiate bilateral agreements with cocoa origin governments to create the frameworks necessary to achieve this aim and provide financial and technical support to those governments to do so.
“It should also establish a regulatory and policy framework within the EU to ensure that companies conduct human rights and environmental due diligence in their supply chains. This will help encourage sustainable cocoa production, support consumer trust and help sustain market demand for cocoa from West Africa over the long term.”
The VOICE Network is an association of NGOs and trade unions, functioning as a watchdog and catalyst for a reformed cocoa sector. Its members are ABVV/FGTB-Horval, Be Slavery Free (formerly Stop The Traffik), EFFAT, FERN, Mondiaal FNV, Green America, Inkota Netzwerk, International Labor Rights Forum, Mighty Earth, Oxfam Novib, Oxfam Wereldwinkels, Public Eye (observer), Solidaridad, and Südwind Institut.