At Mondelēz International, we are committed to making our snacks the right way by helping protect the planet as well as respecting human rights across our value chain. This includes the rights of children in the cocoa supply chain, and through our Strategy to Help Protect Children we are working to help prevent and combat the risk of child labor, bringing us closer to our ultimate vision to collaborate with others to help work toward a cocoa sector that is free of child labor.
When we started Cocoa Life 10 years ago, we wanted to help combat child labor by investing and engaging with communities and working holistically with others to help tackle the interconnected challenges causing child labor. Through this approach we seek to accelerate positive impact and help drive sector transformation.
We focus on activities that are broken down into three primary areas of response: prevention efforts, monitoring and remediation, and systemic solutions.
Looking ahead to 2030 our key goals across all Cocoa Life communities globally are to:
- Enhance child protection systems through Child Labor Monitoring & Remediation Systems (“CLMRS”) coverage and
- Improve access to quality education
In West Africa, where child labor risk is significant, we aim to have all Cocoa Life communities covered by CLMRS by 2025.
A MULTIFACETED PROBLEM
According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), ‘Child labor’ refers to work which deprives children of their childhood, their potential and dignity and that is harmful for their physical and mental development. This can include children who are working below the minimum age of employment or are being deprived of their right to mandatory education. There are socio-economic and cultural challenges that lead farmers to encourage their children to work on cocoa farms, as a way of preserving generational income and taking future responsibility for the land.
There are socio-economic and cultural challenges that lead farmers to encourage their children to work on cocoa farms as a way of preserving generational income and taking future responsibility for the land. As shown in the 2020 NORC report, most of the children who work on cocoa farms do so within their family structure. In addition to helping on cocoa farms, children may do other household chores, such as fetching water and caring for younger members of the family. Harvest seasons also put more pressure on farming households and children may work on cocoa farms before, after or instead of school at times. At other times, parents take younger children to cocoa farms to avoid leaving them at home alone.
IN THE KEY COCOA PRODUCING COUNTRIES
Our approach is intended to be fit-for-purpose in the localities where children are at risk and is designed to adapt to different contexts and cultures. We strive to focus our efforts and resources where the risk is most salient, in terms of likelihood, severity, and scale.
Consistent with ILO and UNICEF global statistics on child labor, sub-Saharan Africa sees the highest prevalence of incidents of child labor. Children and their families in rural areas of West Africa, including cocoa growing regions, face a hard reality of poverty and slow development, which includes a lack of education infrastructure. In response, Cocoa Life has developed community-based interventions, including development of CLMRS, improving access to education and helping to improve farming households’ net income. Over the past decade, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana have made significant progress in increasing access to education, although issues with access to, and quality of, education still persist.
Both Indonesia and India have mandatory universal education for children and established decentralized community governance mechanisms. Local governments provide social support and services to underserved families, which alleviates child vulnerability. Nevertheless, child labor remains a risk in Indonesia, which is one of the world’s largest cocoa producers, particularly when children drop out of school. In India, Cocoa Life works to help reduce child vulnerability by supporting access to school and positive, safe behaviours with the assistance of NGO implementing partners.
In Brazil, farmers joining the Cocoa Life program must make a formal commitment to zero child labor and Cocoa Life also works with local governments to improve access to quality education. In the Dominican Republic, where child labor is identified mostly in the service sector and household situations, Cocoa Life works to help raise awareness and sensitize cocoa growing households to the risks of child labor.
At Mondelez International, our ultimate vision is to help work toward a cocoa sector that is free of child labor, which can only be achieved through collaboration. Our 2030 goal is to enhance child protection systems and improve access to quality education in Cocoa Life communities. To work towards this end, we support a systems approach, working holistically with communities to help tackle the interconnected challenges causing child labor. To accomplish this, the Cocoa Life program’s strategic approach focuses on three primary areas of response, which mirror UNICEF’s international child protection system strengthening standards:
- Prevention Efforts - with a focus on helping to prevent child labor and support children at risk of child labor.
- Monitoring and Remediation - with a focus on monitoring to help identify and remediate cases of child labor and support through the implementation of community-based CLMRS.
- Helping Enable Systemic Solutions - with a focus on collaboration with others to strengthen the systems that help combat the underlying root causes of child labor.
PREVENTION EFFORTS - to help prevent and support children at risk of child labor. Our approach seeks to address the underlying causes of child labor, with a particular focus on empowering communities, including:
- Encouraging Community Action Plans based on needs assessments identifying community needs and development actions
- Helping to improve farmer net income from cocoa farming and other sources
- Helping to improve access to quality education
- Helping to empower women
MONITORING AND REMEDIATION - with a focus on monitoring to help identify and remediate cases of child labor and support through the implementation of community-based CLMRS.
- Awareness raising activities about the issues related to child protection.
- Community Child Protection Committees (CCPCs) form an integral part of our CLMRS, building the capacity of communities to help identify, support, and protect vulnerable children.
- CLMRS cover farming families in Cocoa Life communities and focus on the support needed through (i) remediation of children identified as vulnerable and families identified as at risk of child labor and (ii) monitoring, including an assessment of continued access to school.
- By 2025, we aim to have all Cocoa Life communities in West Africa covered by CLMRS.
HELPING ENABLE SYSTEMIC SOLUTIONS - focus on collaboration with others to strengthen the systems that help combat the underlying root causes of child labor. Working to enable systemic solutions involves strategic partnerships with local and national governments. It also consists of working in collaboration with other industry partners to amplify funding and contributions to structural change, such as improving access to quality education. This includes:
- Supporting government policy and action
- Advocacy for international, national, and local initiatives to help improve child protection
- Engaging all levels of government through partnership, capacity building and system support
Underpinning our entire strategy is the reality that protecting children is a shared goal and requires a collaborative process of partnership and coordination with governments, suppliers, communities, NGO partners, peer companies, and multi-sector partners.
We believe that in order to drive long-lasting positive change for children in cocoa-growing regions, all actors along the cocoa supply chain should play their part to help combat the systemic issues underlying child labor. This is why, as founding members, we support the work of the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) and the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), aiming to help combat the root causes of child labor and drive efforts to strengthen public-private partnership with governments, development partners and civil society organizations.
Because it takes action from all actors along the supply chain to address systemic environmental and human rights issues, Mondelēz International has been a vocal advocate in favor of mandatory human rights due diligence legislation. We support legislative efforts aimed at enabling practical, proactive, ongoing human rights due diligence. We welcome the EU Commission’s Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence directive (issued in February 2022), which requires companies to identify and address human rights and environmental risks in their value chain.
In the European Union, the world’s largest consuming market for West African cocoa, we have collaborated with peer and supplier companies as well as NGOs through the ‘Cocoa Coalition’ to amplify our voice. Read our joint position here.
"There are many root causes to child labour: lack of access to education, poverty, lack of access to health, safe water etc. So, if you want to tackle such a complex issue, you need to attack it from various angles. That's where holistic programs such as Cocoa Life bring a lot of benefits. They will implement multiple interventions at the same time to tackle those root causes."
Matthias Lange, Executive Director, International Cocoa Initiative
"At Mondelēz International, making our snacks the right way means respecting the human rights of all people in our value chain. In the cocoa supply chain, we are collaborating with partners to help combat child labor in the cocoa sector. That means working to address the root causes of child labor, not just the symptoms, which is why we continue to implement a holistic community-based approach with a strong focus on enhancing child protection systems and improving access to quality education. The path toward our ultimate vision of a child labor free sector is not expected to be without difficulty, but we are determined to do our part and be a solutions-oriented partner. We will continue to share our learnings, seek out partnership with all relevant stakeholders and advocate for systemic solutions."
Virginie Mahin, Senior Director Global Social Sustainability & Stakeholder Engagement, Mondelēz Internationale
Helping to combat child labor requires looking at the root causes that perpetuate risks of child labor. We have partnered with organizations and local and national governments to look at these root causes in a practical way. We have taken a rural community development approach through Community Action Plans (CAPs), taking actions to help improve farming households’ income, implementing activities to help empower women, and helping to enable more children to have access to quality education.
MONITORING AND REMEDIATION
We are working with local authorities and partners towards a goal to have a CLMRS in place across 100% of Cocoa Life communities in West Africa by 2025. By the end of 2021, we reached ~61% CLMRS coverage in Cocoa Life communities in West Africa.
Learn more about our progress and impact through prevention efforts, monitoring and remediation by visiting our online dashboard.
HELPING ENABLE SYSTEMIC SOLUTIONS
In order to help drive long-lasting, positive change for children in cocoa-growing regions, all actors along the cocoa supply chain should play their part to help combat the systemic issues underlying child labor.
We are part of CLEF, a collaboration between Jacobs Foundation, the UBS Optimus Foundation, the Ivorian government, and the broader cocoa sector. The collaboration aims to reach ~5 million children in cocoa growing areas and provide them with improved access to quality primary education. Lack of access to quality education is an underlying cause of child labor, and with a target investment of CHF110 million, this initiative, led by the Ivorian government, has the potential to provide a blueprint for public private partnership that can replicated by other countries in the future as a systemic solution.
"Cocoa Life has been a champion for early childhood development and education since the beginning of our partnership. Their leadership has nudged many others towards more holistic company sustainability strategies."
Irina Hotz, Co-Lead Learning Societies, Jacobs Foundation
"Every Day Against Child Labor - Our interventions in Ghana"
By Matilda Broni, Manager, Community Development (Ghana), Cocoa Life, Mondelēz International
"A Child-Centered Approach Focused On The Holistic Well-Being Of Children Is The Only Sustainable Way To Address Child Labor."
Over the years, Cocoa Life is working to help eliminate child labor in cocoa-growing communities by addressing child labor directly as well as its root causes, including: relative poverty of farmers, lack of infrastructure, and poor access to schools and healthcare.