Cocoa Coalition urges EU Commission action on sustainable sourcing

The global Cocoa Coalition, consisting of major confectionery groups and industry organisations, has urged EU nations to seize ‘a golden opportunity’ of plans from Ivory Coast and Ghana governments to create an economic pact for Sustainable Cocoa, reports Neill Barston.

With the issue of social responsibility in ethical sourcing for the sector remaining high on the agenda, the combined businesses and civil society have joined forces to urge EU member states to embrace plans to deliver clear and actionable due diligence frameworks.

The Cocoa Coalition comprises key companies including Ferrero, Hershey, Mars Wrigley, Mondelēz International, Nestle, Tony’s Chocolonely, Unilever), certification organisations (Fairtrade International, Rainforest Alliance), NGOs (Fair Trade Advocacy Office, Solidaridad, VOICE Network) and stakeholder organisations such as International Cocoa Initiative.

As the group of enterprises noted, it has consistently argued that the effectiveness of due diligence legislation, such as the proposed Deforestation Regulation and Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, will be limited unless it is coupled with the creation of the enabling environment required to make progress on sustainable cocoa farming within cocoa-producing countries.

Its call to EU nations comes amid ongoing major issues relating to industry-linked child labour and deforestation, with a total of 1.5 million minors still exposed to the worst forms of labour practices within the cocoa sector in Ghana and Ivory Coast.

Major pressures of reduced pricing of cocoa, and the pandemic have placed further issues upon those working within key agricultural sectors serving the confectionery industry, making progress on delivering due diligence legislation all the more vital in many observers’ eyes.

According to the coalition, the scope of any legislation should address core issues including  land and forest governance, land use planning, forest protection, children’s rights, support for farmers and farm organisations, living incomes and national traceability systems.

In its view, it should also cover agricultural and rural policies, including supply management strategies and measures to offer farmers opportunities other than cocoa production, and the promotion of alternative – sustainable – agricultural models which are less export-dependent and support sustainable community forest management.

The Coalition added that the initiative should, explore what can be done to address the question of unstable and often low farmgate prices for cocoa.

In a statement on is position, the collective added: “We believe that an Economic Pact could serve as a useful tool to combat poverty, which is a major driver of social and environmental issues in both countries.

“None of these objectives can be delivered through due diligence legislation in the EU, or even in other countries, alone. We believe that it is essential for the EU to pursue the establishment of long-term partnership agreements with the governments of cocoa-producing countries, ensuring that all relevant stakeholders are involved, including local community representatives, farmers, industry, and civil society.

“These partnership agreements should include time-bound frameworks for action for all parties involved. They should place a particular emphasis on actions at the policy level by producer governments as well as other relevant stakeholders, and include incentive mechanisms and support from the EU and its member states to ensure that the necessary actions can be implemented successfully,” added the coalition, which said the proposals represented a golden opportunity to make significant strides in tackling a raft of interlinked issues through greater cooperation and scaled-up action plans. Consequently it has called on the EU Commission and its member states to respond positively to the plans being put forward.


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