A host of new moves, including a proposed EU ban on cocoa linked to deforestation and child labour, look set to dramatically clean up the chocolate industry.
Cocoa-producing countries, policymakers and companies are working together to stop cocoa grown illegally on deforested land from getting into supply chains. And according to campaigners, the chocolate industry is not resisting.
In an investigation last year, the Guardian found that the chocolate industry was driving deforestation on a devastating scale in west Africa.
This week Ghana announced a major new plan to end deforestation and forest degradation caused by the production of cocoa. The Ivory Coast said in May that it would ask donors and companies to help fund their $1.1bn reforestation strategy.
Last month the chocolate companies Cémoi and Godiva published new corporate policies to tackle deforestation not only in cocoa but in the other commodities they use, while Valrhona and Ferrero look set to do the same.
Discussions have begun on a draft law to stop cocoa linked to the destruction of rainforests from coming into the EU, which is where most of the world’s chocolate is consumed. Campaigners hope this represents a major step on the long journey to clean up the cocoa industry.
More than 2 million children work on cocoa plantations in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, the world’s two biggest cocoa-growing countries. These children have often never tasted or even heard of chocolate.
“We Europeans, as major consumers of cocoa, of chocolate, have a responsibility in how the supply chains work,” Linda McAvan, chair of the European parliament’s committee on development, told a hearing this month. She added that MEPs were “very concerned about issues about child labour but also … the environmental impact of deforestation in rainforests”.
Outside Africa, Colombia became last week the first Latin American country to sign up to the cocoa and forests initiative, committing to using deforestation-free cocoa by 2020.
Legislators are considering what kind of law would work best to regulate the cocoa industry. One contender is a law governing forests and fighting illegal timber being brought into the EU. After developing the forest law, enforcement, governance and trade (FLEGT) action plan in 2003 and adopting relevant legislation, the EU signed agreements with countries that agreed to fight illegal logging. In return, these countries got easier access to the European market.