Belgium has called for “an ambitious [EU] action plan against deforestation and forest degradation before the end of the current mandate of the European Commission”, as part of a new Belgian initiative on cocoa launched on 5 November 2018.
Support for an EU regulation of agricultural commodities is growing. France recently called for due diligence around imported deforestation, and Germany’s development minister Gerd Mueller spoke out in November in favour of EU due diligence regulation for all commodity imports.
Belgium has called specifically for an EU due diligence regulation for cocoa, explaining that the commodity is “particularly ripe for legislation addressing ... human rights violations and deforestation”.
Europeans’ passion for chocolate has made the EU the world’s largest importer of cocoa beans, swallowing up 60 per cent of global production. Yet cocoa production drives two million children into the labour force and destroys tropical forests. Increasingly those involved – companies included (FW 238) – do not want their indulgence to entail such unsavoury consequences.
Calls for EU regulation for agricultural commodities are likely to grow stronger as voluntary measures reveal their limitations. An investigation recently released by Mighty Earth showed that deforestation for cocoa production in West Africa has continued at the same pace this year, despite much-touted voluntary zero-deforestation commitments made by companies as part of the Cocoa & Forests Initiative.
For more information on recent developments towards an EU regulation for cocoa, see this month’s blog by campaigner Julia Christian.