In a statement released to the media, the Coalition referred to its own detailed proposals published in 2019 and 2021 and said: “We have consistently called for the EU to introduce mandatory obligations of due diligence extending throughout the supply chain.”
But the Coalition said that one major objective of the EC’s proposed regulation on deforestation should be to aim to deliver living incomes for cocoa farmers, which is “an essential step in achieving a sustainable cocoa sector.”
The Cocoa Coalition comprises companies (Ferrero, Hershey, Mars Wrigley, Mondelēz International, Nestle and Tony’s Chocolonely), certification organisations (Fairtrade International, Rainforest Alliance), NGOs (Fair Trade Advocacy Office, Fern, Solidaridad, VOICE Network) and multi-stakeholder organisations, including the International Cocoa Initiative.
The EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive was published on 23 February with the aim of holding businesses accountable for human rights abuse and environmental harm throughout their supply chains.
Under any new EU legislation, cocoa and chocolate companies, regardless of their size, must implement such due diligence obligations.
Steve Trent, CEO and founder of the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), said: “While the legislation has a wholly laudable objective, the current draft has serious weaknesses that will leave it sluggish and unresponsive to changing supply chains. First, to future proof this law, it is vital that grassroots groups, citizens, and others are able to raise the alarm on environmental and human rights abuse directly with the European Commission. This first-hand knowledge is irreplaceable, and yet there is currently no channel for it."
The Cocoa Coalition said it recognises that smaller companies may possess simpler supply chains, but it did not believe these companies should be exempted from the due diligence obligation.
“In a very fragmented end market, the inclusion of smaller players is critical to establish a level playing field and to ensure that all companies do their part and work closer together to improve the sustainability of the cocoa sector,” it said.
For the legislation to be fully effective, it needs to be coupled with the strengthening of the enabling environment for sustainable cocoa farming, the Cocoa Coalition said. It is calling on the European Commission to make greater efforts to engage in stakeholder dialogue – notably, in the cocoa-sector context, with smallholder farmers and their communities – and to pursue the establishment of bilateral partnership agreements between the EU and cocoa-producing countries.
The Cocoa Coalition also said it was “looking forward to engaging with Members of the European Parliament and representatives of member-state governments in further improving and implementing the proposed directive.”