Cocoa, an unsavoury sweet?

Cocoa, an unsavoury sweet?


Cocoa, an unsavoury sweet? The European Commission gathered key stakeholders to assess progress, practices and challenges to eradicate child labour from cocoa production and value chains.

The challenge of ending child labour remains formidable with 152 million children in child labour around the world, 71 % of these are engaged in the agricultural sector, with Africa home to nearly two-thirds of all child labourers. Child labour in agriculture is characterised by the high risks of hazardous work and the worst forms of child labour likely to harm the health, safety and morals of children. 

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 European Union 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.


Participants to workshop 'Cocoa, an unsavoury sweet?'While there is a better understanding of the issues and approaches, progress has been frustratingly slow. International efforts have made tremendous strides but a sustained commitment from all stakeholders is urgent if SDG target 8.7, which aims to end child labour in all its forms by 2025, is to be achieved.

A more systematic approach to combatting child labour in agriculture is needed, paying particular attention to the needs of rural youth and adolescents, many of whom are migrants from neighbouring countries and vulnerable to forced labour.

This is the context of the recently organised workshop on child labour in cocoa, which 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.


Group photo of 'Cocoa, an unsavoury sweet?'


62 participants attended from EU institutions, EU Member State development agencies, producer country representatives, trade operators, private sector, producer and consumer associations, international organisations, civil society, trade unions and academia.




The one-day facilitated, participatory workshop:

  • Assessed progress and shared good practices for replication in education and training, improved livelihoods, alternative income generating activities, infrastructure development, awareness raising, legal and regulatory frameworks, social dialogue and fair trade;
  • Clarified the needs and roles of stakeholders, and opportunities to build strategic partnerships between central and local government, donors, farmer organisations, industry players, civil society, communities and consumers associations;
  • Shared innovative, sustainable and holistic approaches to ensure investment, decent jobs, improved and diversified production, safeguarding fair prices, increasing safe working conditions and the implementation of environmental friendly practices; 
  • Assessed potential to increase local chocolate production and other quality cocoa products, while respecting economic, social and environmental standards;
  • Identified opportunities for influencing policy dialogue, trade agreements and global supply chains including certification, transparency and traceability initiatives.

You can find all the presentations of speakers here and read the concept note and discussion paper here.

A final report is available here.