Stop child labor and deforestation for chocolate!

Chocolate products One child's delight is another's backbreaking labor. (© RdR)

Chocolate has a dark secret: the 1.2 million children that work on cocoa plantations. Many farm workers can’t earn a living wage and forests are being destroyed – even in protected areas. Companies have been promising to address these issues for decades, but little has improved. We urgently need EU regulation to stop these crimes.

Call to action

To: German Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture, Julia Klöckner

To end child labor, human rights violations and deforestation, we need EU regulation for the cocoa sector.

Read letter

Christmas time is chocolate time. But not every child can enjoy the holidays: 1.2 million have to work on cocoa plantations to help their families make ends meet. Whole families break their backs for the cocoa industry without the prospect of ever rising out of poverty – so a chocolate Santa is not their idea of fun.

Many of the cocoa plantations were established where rainforests used to grow. Ivory Coast, one of the world’s biggest cocoa suppliers, has lost almost all of its forests, including some of the last habitats of the critically endangered chimpanzee. Even national parks are being cut for cocoa production. In Peru’s Amazon region, hundreds of hectares of untouched forests have been destroyed.

None of this is new. Producers have been promising for two decades to end child labor, human rights violations and environmental destruction, but little has improved. They fear losing customers and profit if they make the first move and raise their prices while their competitors continue to sell cheap.

Promises and voluntary initiatives clearly don’t work, so we need legally binding EU regulation: Cocoa imported to the EU must be:

- free of human rights abuses, including child and forced labor

- provide a living income for farmers so they can feed their families

- free of deforestation and environmental destruction.

The EU is the number-one cocoa importer and manufacturer and consumer of chocolate worldwide. If the EU doesn’t deal with this crisis, no one will. The EU needs to take responsibility!

A key figure holding the EU back from acting is Germany’s minister for agriculture, Julia Klöckner. Please sign our petition and tell Ms. Klöckner that children don't belong on plantations and that intact forests are more important than Europe’s sweet tooth!

Letter

To: German Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture, Julia Klöckner

Dear Minister Klöckner,

Chocolate has a dark secret: the 1.2 million children that work on cocoa plantations, the farm workers that don‘t earn a living wage and the forests the are being destroyed for further plantations. Despite several decades of voluntary initiatives, the global cocoa sector has made little progress in addressing these pressing issues.

EU regulation will be crucial to achieving sector-wide change and holding all actors accountable for their environmental and social conduct. As the world’s primary importer, processor and consumer of cocoa, the EU would have a transformative impact on the cocoa sector by regulating its imports. This would follow in the footsteps of existing EU supply chain regulation in the timber, fishing and mining sectors.

A regulatory approach can have strong benefits, also for producers, as it would allow them to respect human rights and care for the environment without the threat of competition undercutting prices at the expense of sustainability.

At the 2018 World Cocoa Conference in Berlin, the conference’s Berlin Declaration concluded that “voluntary compliance has not led to sufficient impact”, and that there was a need for “potential regulatory measures by governments.”

European customers want to be sure that the chocolate they buy is:

- free of human rights abuses, including child and forced labor
- providing a living income for farm workers so that they can feed their families
- free of deforestation and environmental destruction.

France has already indicated its support for an EU cocoa law, but Germany must also step up. Despite positive signals from some German governmental agencies, the agricultural ministry BMEL has shown no apparent interest in supporting a law that would protect children and our planet.

Please help protect children, rural populations and the environment in cocoa-producing countries and advocate EU regulation for the global cocoa sector.

Yours faithfully,

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