Ever heard of the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI)? It’s a Swiss-based non-profit funded by Big Choco that focuses on addressing child labour in cocoa production in West Africa. Pretty cool, right? All of Big Choco are members of the ICI and, although we’re not a Big Choco yet, we are members too. We work together with ICI to implement the CLMRS – Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System in communities we source cocoa from. (Check out this article to find out more about how that works). ICI just launched their new strategy for the next 5 years and, well.. let’s say there is some good stuff, but also some disappointing stuff in there.
We agree with the bottom line: there has been some progress, but there is still a lot to be done. Illegal child labour is still a big problem in the cocoa sector and the numbers speak for themselves - according to ICI, 1 in 3 children living in cocoa-growing areas in West Africa are involved in illegal child labour. Therefore, illegal child labour remains a massive concern that urgently needs addressing.
So, what’s ICI’s new strategy?
ICI states that they aim to ‘scale up’ over the next 5 years. Right now, 10-20% of cocoa communities are covered by some form of monitoring and remediation approach that reduces illegal child labour. ICI aims to achieve 25% coverage of the full cocoa supply chain through their members and partners in the coming years and to use its influence to ‘convince’ the remaining 75% – we don’t think this is ambitious enough! Everyone at risk must be reached in all cocoa communities as soon as possible and ICI has the power and reach to do more than they plan.
ICI and its members should aim to raise the bar way higher and cover 100% of their collective supply chains right now, just like we do. Time’s up! After 20 years of no significant results, ‘convincing’ Big Choco to conduct voluntary action cannot be the solution to change the sector, as it clearly does not work.
We couldn’t agree more..
We need national and international legislation that fosters and forces progress. Legislation ensures more transparency and equality in the supply chain. Plus, companies would be forced to seriously tackle the negative impact on human rights and the environment in their supply chains.
Overall, ICI states responsible supply chains are needed, that means implementing systems to prevent and remediate illegal child labour and achieve full transparency on the issue. We couldn’t agree more. Therefore, we launched a petition calling for 100% responsibility. Companies and all actors in the cocoa sector need to step up their game and take full responsibility for their entire supply chains. Sign the petition here!