A consortium of chocolate manufacturers, certification groups and non-governmental organizations have joined forces to call on the European Union to strengthen its human rights and environmental requirements for companies participating in the global cocoa supply chain.

Barry Callebaut, Mars Wrigley, Mondelēz International, the Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade and the VOICE Network, a group of NGOs and trade unions functioning as a watchdog for a reformed cocoa sector, issued a joint position statement demanding standards that align with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

“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,” the group said. “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.

“Therefore, 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 consortium believes the EU should:

  • Aim to 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.
  • 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.

“We are looking forward to working with relevant authorities, the rest of the industry and various stakeholders to discuss what is proposed,” the group said.