Taking responsible steps
For the past decade the global chocolate and cocoa industry has been working in partnership to bring about positive and sustainable change to the way cocoa is grown and harvested in West Africa.
Since signing the Harkin-Engel Protocol (the Protocol) agreement in 2001, industry has been working in partnership with others including origin governments, civil society, and development partners to bring about a reduction in the worst forms of child labour in the cocoa sector. During this last decade, the industry has contributed more than US$75 million in support of cocoa families and communities by way of building schools, training teachers, improving farmer education and much more and continues to support improvement programs and investment in the region.
The Protocol has been an important catalyst for change in labour practices in the cocoa sector of Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana although there is still much to be done.
Building on the results and lessons learned over the past decade, one year ago on 13 September 2010, the International Chocolate and Cocoa Industry joined in partnership with the US Department of Labor, Governments of Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana and signed a joint Declaration and accompanying Framework of Action to support the implementation of the Protocol and accelerate efforts to reduce the worst forms of child labour. The signing was witnessed by Senator Tom Harkin and Representative Eliot Engel and the International Labour Organisation.
The Framework of Action represents a new partnership with a common purpose and clear goal of bringing about an aggregate 70 per cent reduction in the worst forms of child labour in Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana by 2020 through the joint efforts of the stakeholders. To this end the Framework of Action aims to support new or expanded initiatives that:
- Remove children from the worst forms of child labor, such as hazardous labour, through activities including educational or vocational training and the removal of workplace hazards
- Prevent the exposure of children to the worst forms of child labour through increased access to schooling and vocational training and improvements to the quality and relevance of education
- Promote sustainable livelihoods for the households of children in cocoa growing areas
- Measure the worst forms of child labour and the impact of the initiatives of the partners aimed at addressing them through the establishment and implementation of community-based child labour monitoring systems in cocoa growing areas and the continuation of regular national child labour surveys.
Whilst the global chocolate and cocoa industry acknowledges that there is much more to be done, achieving cultural change is complex. It remains important too, to acknowledge that which has been achieved so far – the responsible steps being taken by the industry and the enormous improvements the cocoa and chocolate industry has taken to develop improved practices in the growing and harvesting of cocoa and the livelihoods of those communities engaged in the sector. Meanwhile, the Australian industry continues to support global efforts to ensure improvement in the cocoa supply chain.
Despite the improvements over the past decade, change will only occur by working in partnership with cocoa farming communities and governments in West Africa to encourage appropriate steps to this complex societal and developmental challenge.
The industry unequivocally disapproves of the worst forms of child labour and will continue to help African communities recognise the benefits of changing their practices. Improved agricultural production techniques are vital to assist long term improvements which will create the right environment to ensure child labour is greatly reduced and even eradicated.
Further investment by chocolate companies working in partnership continues to play an important role in helping to reduce the worst forms of child labour and to create greater efficiencies and improve agricultural production techniques.
Australian Industry Group - Confectionery Sector
Telephone: 03 9867 0181