Due Diligence

In December 2019, a group of companies (Barry Callebaut AG, Mars Wrigley and Mondelēz International), The VOICE Network, Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade, called on the European Union – by far the largest importer and consumer of cocoa in the world – to put in place a mandatory Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence regulation and in parallel to negotiate bilateral agreements with cocoa origin governments to create the frameworks necessary to achieve this aim and provide financial and technical support to those governments to do so.

Since the original publication of this call for an EU Due Diligence requirement, various cocoa and chocolate companies have joined this coalition. The coalition now includes a group of companies (Ferrero, Mars Wrigley, Mondelēz International, Nestle, Tony’s Chocolonely), certification organisations (Fairtrade International, Rainforest Alliance), NGOs (Fair Trade Advocacy Office, VOICE Network) and multi-stakeholder organisations (International Cocoa Initiative),

An updated version of the document can be found here.

This informal coalition has since then released two additional papers, outlining their suggestions for the design of bilateral agreements with cocoa producing countries to strengthen an enabling environment, as well as providing further details for an EU mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence regulation (French translation also available).

The original call can be read below.

We, a group of companies (Barry Callebaut AG, Mars Wrigley and Mondelēz International), The VOICE Network*, Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade, call on the European Union, by far the largest importer and consumer of cocoa in the world, to strengthen human rights and environmental due diligence requirements of companies in global cocoa supply chains, aligned with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).

We strongly believe that we all need to take action together to effectively address some of the systemic human rights and environmental challenges in the cocoa supply chain. National governments must enforce and strengthen their own labour, child protection and environmental laws, and companies have a responsibility to conduct due diligence to identify risk, jointly evaluate remediation and take action which is proportionate to their exposure to the human rights and environmental risk.

Therefore, we think an EU-wide approach to due diligence will benefit all actors in the supply chain in terms of a clear and consistent set of rules and common intent.

The EU should:

  • Aim to negotiate bilateral agreements with cocoa origin governments to create the frameworks necessary to achieve this aim and provide financial and technical support to those governments to do so.
  • Establish a regulatory and policy framework within the EU to ensure that companies conduct human rights and environmental due diligence in their supply chains.  This will help encourage sustainable cocoa production, support consumer trust and help sustain market demand for cocoa from West Africa over the long term.

Find our Joint Position Statement outlining the details of our call to action here. We are looking forward to working with relevant authorities, the rest of the industry and various stakeholders to discuss what is proposed. We invite others to endorse our Joint Position Statement.

Media enquiries should be addressed to: antonie@voicenetwork.eu