The European Union (EU) must put in place in a law to ensure its cocoa imports are free from child labour and deforestation, said participants at a hearing in the European Parliament on 11 July 2018.
The call for a binding regulation – from MEPs, NGOs and chocolate companies – comes after more than a decade of fruitless voluntary efforts to end child labour in the cocoa sector. NGO-led Cocoa Barometer concluded in 2018 that child labour was still “widespread” throughout the industry: “not a single company or government … is anywhere near reaching the sector-wide objective of the elimination of child labour.”
“We, Europeans – as major consumers of cocoa, of chocolate – we have a responsibility in how the supply chains work,” said Linda McAvan MEP, chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Development, at the hearing.
Mondelez, the world’s third-biggest chocolate company, expressed support for a binding regulation on cocoa imports and stressed that it should be at EU-level, to make implementation easier and to ensure a level playing field for companies.
Parallel to this, Fern and NGOs Tropenbos International, EcoCare Ghana, Forest Watch Ghana, and Tropenbos Ghana released a briefing proposing an approach to resolve governance challenges driving deforestation in the cocoa sector in Ghana, such as weak tenure rights and poor enforcement of forest reserves and national parks.
The briefing draws from the most successful elements of Ghana’s Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), a 2009 agreement between the Ghanaian government and the EU to tackle illegal logging in Ghana. In particular, the briefing advises a similar agreement between the EU and key cocoa-producing countries (like Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire) to address governance issues via a genuine multi-stakeholder process.