Cocoa, an unsavoury sweet? Combatting child labour in cocoa

Cocoa, an unsavoury sweet? Combatting child labour in cocoa


In West Africa, more than two million children work in cocoa plantations, harvesting the raw product used for making chocolate and other high-value goods. Earlier this year, the European Commission gathered stakeholders at a workshop to assess what needs to be done to eradicate child labour from cocoa.

Cocoa, an unsavoury sweet? The challenge of ending child labour remains formidable with 152 million children in child labour around the world. They are being robbed from their childhood and their education.

Cocoa is one of the most common agricultural commodities produced with a high prevalence of child labour. There are 2.1 million children alone estimated to be engaged in child labour in the cocoa supply chains of major producer countries’ Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, which together account for 60 % of total world production.

While chocolate consumption increases in the EU and globally, the cocoa industry is dominated by low incomes for producers, poor and unsafe working conditions and cheap child labour. Indeed, many cocoa farmers in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana live under the extreme poverty line.

The workshop, with 62 participants across all stakeholders, sought to contribute to accelerating the elimination of child labour (SDG target 8.7), by identifying gaps and opportunities to tackle child labour in the cocoa production and value chains.

The main recommendations from the workshop were:
  1. The EU should strengthen its legislative and regulatory framework to create more ‘carrots and sticks’, with the most obvious incentive being improved EU market access. The EU should use its existing legal instruments more actively to promote reduction in child labour. DG Trade should make regular public reports about its progress in reducing child labour.
  2. The EU and Member States should work together to elaborate a unified European due diligence framework, and reverse the current multiplication of regulations and frameworks at the Member State level.
  3. The EU’s bilateral programmes could be adjusted to reinforce attention to child labour issues. This could include supporting the efforts of the main partner countries to strengthen implementation of their (already significant) legislation, regulations and policy objectives, as well as commissioning studies and evaluations and facilitating discussion and dissemination of recommendations regarding M&E of child labour elimination actions.
  4. The European Commission could play a useful role in facilitating a multi-stakeholder dialogue that would not be confined to specific programme and project frameworks.

For the full set of recommendations and next steps, read the final report here.

Capacity4Dev also covered the workshop and conducted interviews with the speakers, which was produced into a short video. Find their article with the video here.