A unique coalition of chocolate companies, NGOs, certification organisations and multistakeholder organisations has further outlined its vision for future EU legislation affecting the cocoa sector by publishing renewed proposals for the key features it hopes to see included in forthcoming EU legislation on due diligence and deforestation in the cocoa industry.
In a statement, it said: “We, 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), are today publishing our proposals … that are consistently with the position we announced in 2019."
The coalition said it believes the introduction of mandatory EU-wide due diligence legislation can have a positive impact in driving the necessary transformation of the cocoa and chocolate sector.
“We welcome the two processes currently under way within the European Commission to introduce legislative proposals for due diligence.
“We support the introduction of a general obligation on companies to conduct human rights and environmental due diligence across their entire operations and supply chains, and hope to see this included in the legislative initiative on sustainable corporate governance, including corporate due diligence, led by DG Justice & Consumers.”
Report on risks
The coalition said it calls on any legislation to require companies to work with their suppliers and supply-chain partners, especially in producer-countries, to identify, address and report on risks in their supply chains rather than abandon or avoid high-risk sources of cocoa.
Moreover, the criteria underlying the due diligence obligation should aim to ensure respect for human and labour rights, rights of land tenure and access, the laws of the producer country, and environmental sustainability. “This includes explicit respect for the right to an adequate standard of living as a fundamental human right: a ‘living income’, to be understood as a precondition to access other human rights,” it said in the statement.
"We also call on DG Environment to come forward with proposals for due diligence legislation to minimise the risk of deforestation associated with cocoa products placed on the EU market, and to extend this to include forest degradation and ecosystem harm.
"Both pieces of legislation should be implemented as uniformly as possible across the EU, avoiding a patchwork of different member state approaches, and should cover companies irrespective of their size – this is fundamental in the cocoa and chocolate sector to avoid distortion and maximise impact, given its fragmentation."
The coalition also reiterates that any forthcoming legislation should be enforced by government agencies with sufficient powers and resources, and “contain dissuasive penalties and access to remedies, including provisions for civil liability, in order to help drive real change in the sector”.
It also wants the European Commission to pursue the establishment of bilateral partnership agreements between the EU and cocoa-producing countries – outlined in its joint position paper on partnerships.
- The coalition‘s joint position paper on due diligence legislation is available here.