Petition: End Child Exploitation in Cocoa

Child slavery and child labor have plagued the cocoa industry in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana —which produce 60% of the world’s cocoa—for decades. Despite promises from the world’s largest chocolate companies to eradicate the problem, evidence reveals that they have fallen far short of achieving their goal.

Take action today to demand that the world’s top chocolate companies step up to fully tackle child exploitation in West African cocoa once and for all.

NGOs: Are Industry and Governments Watering Down New Cocoa Report Data to Downplay Persistent Child Labor and Farmer Poverty?

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Leaked World Cocoa Foundation Strategy Documents Show Industry More Concerned About Messaging Than Ending Farmer Poverty; Initial Draft of Report Due Out Shortly Finds Children Still Laboring in West African Cocoa Fields, Often Under Hazardous Conditions.

NGOs from the U.S., Europe, U.K., and Australia working towards a more sustainable chocolate industry are calling for a better future in combating two major related issues in the supply of cocoa from West Africa: child labor and environmental devastation. The NGOs (Mighty Earth, Be Slavery Free, Green America, Freedom United, and Fair World Project) question a forthcoming, watered-down report that is based on obsolete pre-COVID data, and demand urgent solutions for the unacceptably massive number of children in abusive and illegal labor conditions in cocoa, as well as forests being destroyed.

For close to 20 years the issue of child labor and slavery has been on the radar of the industry who source from West Africa which produces around 66% of the world’s cocoa. In that time the development of the cocoa industry and the world clamoring for chocolate and cocoa products has resulted in the devastation of forests and the widespread use of dangerous chemicals. Not enough has been done by industry to effectively change the situation - in fact, it is now evident it may have gotten worse because of the current pandemic.

The NGOs’ call for action comes in advance of the release of a new report by NORC at the University of Chicago examining the prevalence of child labor in cocoa in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. The elephant in the room is a leaked earlier version of the report which broke in April, and found that despite decades of hype and voluntary corporate efforts, child labor had increased to 2 million children. The leaked NORC report also revealed the number of child laborers being exposed to harmful pesticides had increased.

Since the earlier draft report was leaked, the final report release was delayed for NORC to rework the methodology, which may result in lowering the estimated number of child laborers. “No amount of tweaking or reworking the methodology can obscure that significant findings of children in hazardous, exploitative, or slavery-like conditions in cocoa demonstrates the twenty-year failure of industry and government to effectively act on the problem,” said Todd Larsen, Executive Co-Director of Green America.

Whatever the findings in the final report, the data obtained by NORC is obsolete. NORC’s data collection predates the COVID-19 epidemic, which is resulting in an estimated 15-20% increase in child labor in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, based on research from multiple sources. Cocoa producing countries’ overall economic situation has deteriorated significantly as the global economy ground to halt during the pandemic.

The NGOs received a leaked strategy document from the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), a trade organization with 100 member companies, which outlines industry plans and talking points to address the report findings. These talking points reveal how industry was given advance notice of the findings of the report. The document urges companies to play up industry efforts to address child labor, but fails to push companies to address farmer poverty, which is a key driver of child labor and deforestation in the impacted countries. Etelle Higonnet of Mighty Earth commented, “it seems that the cocoa industry is more interested in public relations than real solutions for kids, farmers, or forests.”

Chocolate is a $100 billion per year industry, and yet most cocoa farmers live on less than $1 per day. To this day, there is no industry-wide commitment to pay farmers a living income. WCF states that the industry has spent $215 million to address child labor over a 20-year time period. Carolyn Kitto from Be Slavery Free explained, “this amount is too little too late for many kids, and pales in comparison to the trillions of dollars in revenue from cocoa to governments, traders, processors, manufacturers, and retailers. Until companies step up and pay a living income for all cocoa farmers, the millions put into child labor remediation is just balderdash.”

Herrana Addisu, Advocacy Officer for Freedom United, underscored that “the harsh realities in cocoa which far outstrip the findings of the NORC report, must be a call-to-action for governments to pass mandatory human rights due diligence regulation and for a re-examination of the value of voluntary commitments, which again have failed to meaningfully reduce exploitative child labor in chocolate supply chains.”

The NGOs are calling on retailers, chocolate companies, and traders to

  • Push for the enactment of mandatory human rights due diligence laws worldwide;
  • Increase payments to cocoa farmers to attain a living income;
  • Increase child labor monitoring and remediation programs to reach 100% of cocoa-growing communities and children; and
  • Reduce toxic pesticide use and other environmental harms as part of a commitment to ending deforestation and instituting earth-friendly agroforestry practices.

Holistic solutions that are a win for farmers and forests need to be rolled out urgently. “As the COVID-19 crisis has made abundantly clear, the health of individuals around the world and the health of our planet are interconnected,” stated Anna Canning, Campaign Manager at Fair World Project. “We need an end to pesticide and other chemical use, with organic and regenerative agriculture targets for the whole industry, because the evidence is now clear: the industry is poisoning people, especially children, in order to increase profits.”

The NORC report is conducted as part of the Harkin-Engel Protocol, a non-binding agreement between some of the largest chocolate companies and the U.S. government where industry committed to ending child labor in cocoa a decade ago. This protocol is set to expire in the second half of 2021. In the twenty years since the Harkin-Engel Protocol was put into place, the children whose documented labor spurred the creation of the protocol have grown up, and their children may now be laborers in cocoa fields.

“How many generations of children must miss out on school and the opportunities to advance themselves before the cocoa industry finally takes the necessary actions to end the problem?” asked Charlotte Tate, Labor Campaigns Director for Green America.

The 5 NGOs expressing concern today are: Mighty Earth, Be Slavery Free, Green America, Freedom United, and Fair World Project.


Justice for Tamshiyacu

After it deforested about 2,000 hectares of primary forest to install a cocoa plantation in Tamshiyacu in the Loreto region of Peru, the company Cacao del Peru Norte (today Tamshi SAC) was charged with engaging in illegal trafficking of forest and wood products and obstruction of justice. Today, Mighty Earth supports those calling on the relevant Peruvian authorities to ratify the sentence against the company.

In July 2019, the Judicial Power ruled in favor of the State and ordered Cacao del Peru Norte to pay a civil reparation of more than 15 million soles ($4 million USD). Its manager, now a fugitive, was sentenced to eight years in prison.

The company appealed, and on Friday October 2, the second instance hearing will be held in the Superior Court of Loreto. It is of vital importance that the Judiciary knows citizens and civil society organizations are aware of this case and demanding that those responsible for these environmental crimes be definitively condemned.

The ratification of the sentence is fundamental to the fight against deforestation in Peru since, for the first time, a crime of this type has received criminal sanctions against those responsible. It is also of special importance in the fight against impunity. Finally, the protection of the Amazon is essential to addressing the global climate and extinction crises. Peru must set an example and guarantee environmental and climate justice.

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Webinar: How to Achieve Zero Deforestation Cocoa

Mighty Earth's Etelle Higonnet was the opening speaker at Earthworm Foundation's recent webinar, "How the cocoa industry can stop deforestation." You can watch the full video here, courtesy of Earthworm Foundation:

About the Webinar:

Cocoa production is a driver of deforestation. Today, many chocolate brands have made commitments to tackle deforestation within their supply chains, but how can the industry ensure cocoa is not grown at the expense of tropical forests? Join us, along with speakers from Mighty Earth, Valrhona, and World Cocoa Foundation to discuss the solutions in the first of a series of Earthworm Foundation cocoa webinars.


  • Etelle Higonnet - Senior Campaign Director, Mighty Earth
  • Gerome Tokpa - Head of West Africa, Earthworm Foundation
  • Rob McWilliam – Director of Technical Services, Earthworm Foundation
  • Pierre Costet – Cacao Forest Project
  • Ethan Budiansky – Director of Environment, World Cocoa Foundation


  • Renzo Verne – Senior Manager, Earthworm Foundation

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Key elements for an agreement between the EU and cocoa-producing countries, to ensure sustainability in the cocoa sector

The paper outlines a vision for a new partnership agreement between the European Union and the governments of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire to tackle deforestation, poverty and social issues in the cocoa sector. It outlines what an agreement should look like, how it should be negotiated, who should be involved, and how it could work with expected new EU laws to address imported deforestation and human rights abuses.
Read here

Cocoa Accountability Map 2.0 Webinar

Cocoa Accountability Map 2.0 Webinar

July 31, 2020

Mighty Earth recently hosted a webinar for the launch of our Cocoa Accountability Map 2.0 as part of our effort to trigger a transparency and traceability revolution in the cocoa sector. Our updated Cocoa Accountability Map now has land use information for all of Côte d’Ivoire, new supply chain information, and better cocoa cooperative data.

This webinar brought together mapping and deforestation experts from across the globe. The webinar provided a rare opportunity for these experts, with similar goals, to engage with one another and provide updates on what they are doing.

Most importantly, it gave us a chance to showcase that mapping is happening in the cocoa sector. Mapping is already a reality despite efforts of government agencies and certain companies to slow or stop the trend. High quality mapping of cocoa and deforestation for cocoa is possible, real, and tangible – though unfortunately up to this point has yet to be led or coordinated in any substantial way by the Cocoa & Forest Initiative.

Traceability of supply chains is also evolving in cocoa. With notable exceptions of Ferrero/Nutella, Blommer/Fuji Oil, and Mondelez/Cadbury, most major cocoa traders and chocolate manufacturing companies have disclosed or are in the process of disclosing their direct supply chains in Côte d’Ivoire.

However, collaboration and leadership will be key to put this mapping and traceability information into good use. Speakers in the webinar evoked the leitmotif that mapping and traceability data must be concretely used for action on the ground, to finally put an end to deforestation and other abuses in cocoa.

The featured speakers were:

For more information, please check out the presentation slides and additional questions and answers from the webinar.

The Cocoa Accountability Map will continue to be updated with more information and a more user-friendly interface from now until the fall. Look out for Mighty Earth’s Cocoa Accountability Map 3.0  and mapping webinar happening in October.

High Carbon Stock Approach and Cocoa

The High Carbon Stock Approach represents a widely recognized, practical methodology to implement ‘no deforestation’ commitments that is recognized by the UN, the European Commission, the French Government, and is part of the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) standard.  It is an integrated land use planning approach that distinguishes forest areas in the humid tropics for conservation from degraded lands with low carbon, biodiversity and social values that may be developed, while ensuring the rights and livelihoods of local peoples are respected.

Reflected in the statement below, the HCSA has now clarified the application of the HCSA methodology for cocoa, specifically for the Cocoa & Forests Initiative. This will ensure that HCSA can support implementation of CFI commitments to conserve forests and end deforestation and forest degradation in the cocoa supply chain. As such, it constitutes a landmark moment for the cocoa industry, as well as cocoa-producing governments.

Mighty Earth believes that that this guidance should be widely used; and salutes the two trials of HCSA assessments are being conducted in cocoa landscapes in Ghana and in Peru. We hope that large-scale HCS-HCV indicative maps and the implementation of the HCS Approach toolkits by companies and smallholder farmers will assist with implementation of the CFI’s no deforestation or forest degradation commitments.

Crucially, the expansion of cocoa plantations or agroforestry into potential or identified HCS forest is considered degradation and/or deforestation (via the gradual degradation of the forest) and is not permitted by the HCSA as these natural forests need to be conserved.


High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA) Statement on Deforestation and Forest Degradation for Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI) Signatories, National Initiatives, Public and Civil society Stakeholders

This statement clarifies the application of the HCSA methodology and an intent on how it can best support the implementation of CFI commitments to conserve forests and end deforestation and forest degradation in the cocoa supply chain.

The High Carbon Stock Approach represents a widely recognised, practical methodology to implement ‘no deforestation’ commitments. For example it is recognised by the UN, the European Commission, the French Government, and is part of the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) standard.  It is an integrated land use planning approach that distinguishes forest areas in the humid tropics for conservation from degraded lands with low carbon, biodiversity and social values that may be developed, while ensuring the rights and livelihoods of local peoples are respected.

The HCSA methodology is neither country nor commodity specific.  Members of the High Carbon Stock Approach steering group are working collaboratively to scale up its use across the palm oil and pulp and paper sectors, and advance adaptations for its use by the cocoa and rubbers sectors and in different tropical rainforests regions.  A simplified methodology is being trialed by small oil palm farmers in Indonesia and indicative HCS mapping at a landscape level is being explored and trialed.  It is being implemented in 10 countries in Asia Pacific and Africa, including by local governments in the West Papua province of Indonesia, and expanding into Latin America.

The HCS Approach effectively identifies tropical forest areas,[1] including natural secondary and regenerating forests, that are under threat from deforestation and forest degradation due to agricultural production expansion.  The expansion of cocoa plantations or agroforestry into potential or identified HCS forest is considered degradation and/or deforestation (via the gradual degradation of the forest) and is not permitted by the HCSA as these natural forests need to be conserved. The HCSA also incorporates the identification of High Conservation Value areas (HCVs) as defined by the  High Conservation Value Resource Network (HCVRN).  This requires both social and environmental HCVs to be maintained or enhanced through appropriate management and monitoring defined during the assessment process in and amongst agricultural production areas.

The current HCSA toolkit is applied to landholdings with plans for new development that involve land use change, assessing land cover over many hundreds or thousands of hectares.  This is implemented through integrated HCV-HCSA assessments conducted by Licensed Assessors and their qualified teams. The High Conservation Value Resource Network Assessor Licencing Scheme (ALS) is used to evaluate the quality of integrated assessments. For more details on the HCSA quality assurance process please see this link.

It is recognised by the HCSA and a growing number of stakeholders that production of large-scale HCS-HCV indicative maps and the implementation of the HCS Approach toolkits by both companies and smallholder farmers in cocoa production landscapes could greatly assist the implementation of the CFI’s no deforestation and forest degradation commitments.  To support efforts to catalyse the use of the HCSA in cocoa supply chains by CFI signatories and their cocoa suppliers two trials of HCSA assessments are being conducted in cocoa landscapes: one in Ghana[2] and one in Peru.[3]

Additionally, the HCSA is seeking opportunities to collaborate with its members, CFI signatories and other stakeholders to support: additional trials of the HCSA methodology by plantation companies in cocoa landscapes; adaptation of the HCSA simplified approach for cocoa smallholders; scaling up the availability of open source indicative HCS-HCV maps for use by producers, smallholders and governments alike, developing guidance for HCS forests and HCV area restoration; and building the capacity for civil society participation and the implementation of the HCSA in cocoa growing countries.

For more information on the High Carbon Stock Approach or interest in supporting emerging HCSA-cocoa sector opportunities please go to


[1] It is important to note a large amount of HCS forest and HCV area in many countries exist outside of national parks and forest reserves and thus have not yet been officially conserved by the government.

[2] A CFI member Lindt & Spruengli have just published a report outlining the lessons learned in their pilot in Ghana, available here.

[3] See this link for more details on the trial for developing a landscape-level HCS and HCV approach in a smallholder context in Tocache, Peru managed by HCSA members Earthworm, National Wildlife Federation with local partners and stakeholders.

Historic Coalition Speaks Out for Sustainable Cocoa in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire

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Joint Declaration by 350 different NGOs calls for government action to support farmers and protect forests

ABIDJAN, CÔTE D'IVOIRE – Today, 350 environmental, human rights, and good governance NGOs joined a historic letter outlining steps that the Ghanaian and Ivorian governments must take encourage sustainable cocoa while supporting farmers and protecting forests.

The signatories, which include an Ivorian research institute (INADES) and key coalitions such as the Ivorian Civil Society Convention (CSCI), the Ivorian Observatory on Sustainable Management of Natural Resources (OIREN), and the Coalition of Ivorian Human Rights Actors (RAIDH), specifically support the implementation of a floor price for cocoa as announced by the governments of Ghana and Ivory Coast but call for additional safeguards to ensure the new price floor provides income to cocoa farmers without incentivizing additional deforestation. The letter echoes earlier calls for a well-managed price floor from civil society organizations in Ghana, Cameroon, and the EU and US. The joint declaration further highlights that these issues have taken on added urgency as the global coronavirus pandemic exacerbates poverty and disrupts the economy.

“Civil society is coming together to fight for sustainable cocoa,” said Amourlaye Touré, Mighty Earth’s West Africa Representative. “A cocoa price floor is an important step, but the governments must now ensure that industry actually pays the mandated price and that the new funds raised from this initiative actually make it back to the cocoa farmers – many of whom are surviving on less than a dollar a day.”

The joint statement from the NGOs stresses the importance of preventing possible diversions and says that the revenue generated by the price floor must be managed transparently, with benefits accruing to impoverished farmers. In Côte d’Ivoire, the agency responsible for managing Protected Areas has not always been blameless for corruption; similar problems affect Ghanaian authorities with jurisdiction over deforestation for cocoa as well. According to the World Bank, as reported by Reuters, “Corruption and regulatory mismanagement of Ghana’s cocoa industry are hurting production and harming farmers, underlining the need for reform.”

The new Joint Declaration challenges the Ivorian and Ghanaian governments to ensure that the floor price does not trigger a wave of new deforestation in an already devastated landscape. Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana have had some of the historically highest rates of deforestation in the world. Both countries have lost approximately 90 percent of their forests since independence, with about one-third of that loss driven by cocoa.

“Typically, when a commodity price goes up, deforestation also goes up. The governments must act now to implement the joint monitoring mechanisms they promised to build in 2017 as part of the Cocoa and Forests Initiative,” said the Mighty Earth representative. “We’ve seen real progress in addressing deforestation – Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire both saw primary forest loss decrease by 50 percent from 2018 to 2019 – but now is not the time to get complacent.”

Civil society also pushed for new commitments to respect for the rights of vulnerable smallholder cocoa producers. A new forestry policy announced last year will likely result in the evictions of thousands of small-scale cocoa farmers, with an estimated 1.5 to 2 million cocoa farmers living in protected forests and national parks in Côte d’Ivoire and neighboring Ghana. Although the Ivorian government has the right to reclaim forests intended for conservation, international law protects anyone who occupies land from forced evictions that do not respect the dignity and rights of those affected, regardless of where they are living.

Finally, the Joint Declaration notes that more must be done to address child labor in the industry.

“The coronavirus pandemic has compounded existing problems – more farmers are going hungry and child labor is skyrocketing as the economic impacts worsen,” said Touré. ”We need a well-managed cocoa floor price to protect people’s livelihoods and consolidate the gains we have made in recent years for sustainable cocoa.”

Ending Deforestation is Not Enough, Agroforestry is a Must for Cocoa Sustainability

All cocoa production worldwide must transition away from pesticide-soaked monoculture to robust agroforestry systems.

The Voice Network’s newly published paper, Agroforestry in the Cocoa Sector: A Need for Ambitious Collaborative Landscape Approaches, introduces key insights for that transformation. This paper addresses shortcomings in current approaches to agroforestry cocoa, such as low adoption rates for farmers and lack of monitoring. It also provides detailed and achievable recommendations on a way forward for industry and producer governments.

Despite efforts to end deforestation in the cocoa industry, cocoa production has already had a profound impact on the world’s forests. The two largest producers of cocoa, Ghana and the Cote d’Ivoire, are estimated to have lost between 80-95 percent of their forests. One third of that deforestation is the result of cocoa production, often in monocultures. This deforestation has already led to widespread rainfall loss and unpredictable weather patterns, pushing both countries – alongside neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso – closer to desertification and climate chaos. Trees are rain machines. Kill them, you kill the rains. Replant them, rains can return.

Further, the predominant model of monoculture cocoa farming undermines biodiversity. Moving from monoculture to agroforestry enhances biodiversity of flora and fauna. An estimated 80 percent of the world’s insects are already gone. We are in the midst of a mass extinction. There is no room for pesticide-soaked monoculture cocoa and other crops, if the planet is to avoid an extinction crisis and extirpation of insects that are the building blocks of all life on the planet.

Whereas monoculture cocoa has led to widespread soil degradation, agroforestry practices help heal the soils and reintroduce biodiversity underground, which remains vital though invisible to most people. Agroforestry is widely known to preserve and strengthen soil moisture and fertility, contribute to air moisture retention, and stimulate rainfall through microclimatic control – which again is crucial for healthy soils and the long-term viability of agriculture.

Fortunately, the introduction of robust cocoa agroforestry systems can also promote carbon sequestration, pest control, long-term productivity, and resilience of growing areas in a much-needed transition.

Agroforestry is not only climate-friendly – it is also profitable. Recent trends show increased investment in agroforestry systems, and some experts estimate that “agroforestry systems can create eight times more profit than conventional agriculture.”

Ending deforestation is key. Agroforestry is not a viable alternative to natural forests. However, it should be used to improve already deforested and agricultural lands. Six prominent carbon scientists recently published a paper which demonstrates that regenerative agriculture/agroforestry can significantly contribute to climate mitigation by reducing emissions and improving soil health.

Agroforestry can be beneficial for people as well as the planet. When rolled out correctly, agroforestry systems can provide cocoa farmers with trees that provide food security and income diversification, protecting them from the vicissitudes of economic shocks inherent in monocropping. No responsible investor would dream of buying shares in only one company – likewise, no farmer should be entirely dependent on the fluctuations in the global price of just one commodity.

Most cocoa companies currently define agroforestry poorly, and many have set inadequate goals as well as shoddy implementation plans, which are not shaped by the best available science. Not all approaches are alike; a watered-down approach will lead to watered-down results.

However, high-ambition, collaborative landscape approaches to agroforestry will enable companies to see the same if not better yields and will put farmers in the driver’s seat in a bottom-up approach that is adapted to local realities – not a top-down command-and-control approach that further bankrupts already-exploited cocoa smallholder farmers. The time to phase out monoculture and roll out beneficial agroforestry cocoa systems worldwide is now.

Photo © J. Milz - ECOTOP

Video: Ivory Coast Battles to Save Cocoa-Ravaged Forests

Decades of intensive cocoa farming led to rapid economic development in the Ivory Coast, and turned the country into the world's top producer of the chocolate ingredient. But clearing land for farming all but wiped out the Ivory Coast's forests. An ambitious new forestry policy could reverse that. It aims to take back control of government-managed parks and forest reserves. Amourlaye Toure works for the campaign group Mighty Earth. "We need to act, it is an emergency today. Because if we don't act quickly we risk losing the entirety of our forests. Already 90% of our primary forests in Ivory Coast have been lost between 1960, when we gained independence, until 2000, so in the space of half a century."

Watch the full video from Reuters World News.

Mighty Earth COVID-19 response for Cocoa Farmers

Mighty Earth and the other NGO members of the VOICE Network – a civil society coalition fighting for sustainable chocolate worldwide – are deeply concerned about the effects of COVID-19 on cocoa farming households, a group already in a vulnerable position.

Our immediate concern is for the health and wellbeing of members of cocoa farming households. We are equally concerned about the direct economic impact this global crisis will have on families, who live already well below a living income. Most cocoa farmers earn under $1 per day, which is a major reason why millions of children slave away in cocoa as child labor. This dire poverty also feeds into the catastrophic deforestation that characterizes most cocoa farming, making chocolate a major global driver of forest destruction, especially in West Africa.

During the 2016 price crash, the cocoa and chocolate industry made strong profits while farmers and producing governments lost billions of dollars. Cocoa and chocolate companies did virtually nothing then to support their farmers. This cannot happen again.

Today, we release a Call to Action to the cocoa and chocolate industry to do everything within their means to help protect their cocoa farmers. We offer four key emergency considerations from the chocolate and cocoa industry which play into their role and responsibility, and mirrors responses we see in their employee care in consuming countries.

  1. Cease all non-essential farm visits
  2. Support communication to farming communities on health messaging
  3. Use existing supply chain mechanisms for provisioning farming communities
  4. Set up an emergency relief fund commensurate to the challenge

Our full paper can be read here.

Mighty Earth calls on the United States, the European Union, and Switzerland, to ensure that any bailout or stimulus package that covers chocolate companies, must hold these corporations to account. Any portion of a bailout must be conditional on traceability, transparency, protecting vulnerable farmers from Covid19, paying farmers a living wage, ending child labor, ending the use of hazardous pesticides which poison kids and other vulnerable people and puts them more at risk of respiratory ailments for Covid19. We ask that bailouts deny “Covid profiteering,” insist on deforestation-free and earth-friendly cocoa, and enshrine the principle of “OneHealth” in recognition that the health of the planet and people are intertwined.

World's Largest Chocolate Companies Rated on Efforts to End Environmental and Labor Abuses

International Advocacy Groups Publish Joint Consumer Purchasing Guide

(Lire en français)

Mighty Earth, Green America, and Be Slavery Free published a joint Easter scorecard, analyzing what the world’s biggest chocolate companies are doing to address social and environmental concerns. Godiva receives the “Rotten Egg Award” for its poor performance, and Tony’s Chocolonely receives the “Golden Egg Award” for its efforts to reshape the industry. The Easter scorecard has been published annually by Mighty Earth since 2018.

“Equipped with this scorecard, consumers can buy their Easter chocolates knowing whether their treats are likely tainted by deforestation and human rights abuses,” said Mighty Earth Senior Campaign Director Etelle Higonnet. “Consumers’ purchases highlight that we, at a time of global crisis, are all truly interconnected and that we are in this together.”

Watch a webinar explaining the scorecard:

The groups surveyed 13 chocolate companies and eight cocoa suppliers, examining their policies in six of the most pressing sustainability issues facing the chocolate industry: mandatory due diligence; transparency and traceability; deforestation and climate change; agroforestry; living income policies; and child labor, focusing primarily on child labor monitoring and remediation systems. The methodology can be found here

“Easter is the peak holiday for chocolate sales around the world, with a greater market share than Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or Halloween. However, poorer countries where cocoa is grown may not have the financial muscle to ride the pandemic out. Communities already suffering from malnutrition and low cash flow will be hard hit," said Fuzz Kitto, Co-National Director of Be Slavery Free in Australia. “It’s all the more reason for consumers to make a difference and buy chocolates from companies working to end environmental and labor abuses in the cocoa industry.” 

Chocolate maker Godiva was given The Rotten Egg Award for failing to take responsibility for the conditions with which its chocolates are made, despite making huge profits off its chocolate. Godiva rated poorly across the board. In comparison to other chocolate brands,  Godiva has made very little progress on social and environmental issues in the last few years. 

Tony’s Chocolonely, which sources from the same supplier as Godiva, earned the Golden Egg Award. When comparing the two companies' efforts, the differences are stark. Tony’s is working to demonstrate that an ethical business model is possible in the chocolate industry, and works to support its supplier to improve its operations. Tony’s performed well in every category across the scorecard.

“2020 is a big year in the chocolate sector, two decades since the world’s chocolate manufacturers signed the Harkin-Engel Protocol, an agreement to clean up the industry. Sadly, very little has changed," said Charlotte Tate, Labor Justice Campaigns Manager at Green America.  “Nonetheless, the industry is recognizing voluntary initiatives are not working and more companies are calling for government regulation. Businesses are recognizing that they cannot solve these issues alone and need greater government regulation.”

Roughly 2.1 million children work in cocoa, 96 percent of whom are found to be in hazardous labor, according to researchers at Tulane University. In recent years, research from the World Resources Institute found that there has been an increase in deforestation in the top cocoa producing countries, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. Cocoa farmers often live in extreme poverty, despite chocolate companies raking in billions every year. While progress is being made in the direct cocoa supply chains, there are still concerns about the harmful impacts of indirect supply chains on the environment, particularly deforestation, and people. These issues demonstrate an urgent need for increased efforts to transform the cocoa industry into a sustainable industry. 


About Mighty Earth

Mighty Earth is a global environmental campaign organization that works to protect forests, conserve oceans, and address climate change. We work in Southeast Asia, Latin America, Africa, and North America to drive large-scale action towards environmentally responsible agriculture that protects native ecosystems, wildlife, and water, and respects local community rights. Mighty Earth’s team has played a decisive role in persuading the world’s largest food and agriculture companies to dramatically improve their environmental and social policies and practices. More information on Mighty Earth can be found at 

About Green America

Green America is the nation’s leading green economy organization. Founded in 1982, Green America provides the economic strategies, organizing power and practical tools for businesses and individuals to solve today’s social and environmental problems.


About Be Slavery Free

Be Slavery Free is a coalition of organisations with on the ground experience in preventing, disrupting and remediating modern slavery. Since 2007 they have been working with the chocolate industry, advocating for addressing child labour and slavery.

Mighty Earth “Cocoa Accountability Map” Brings Unprecedented Transparency to Cocoa Industry in Côte d’Ivoire

(Version française ici)

Interactive map includes never-before-released information, including locations of Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade certified co-ops and sourcing information for major chocolate companies.

In a historic first, Mighty Earth today announced the public release of its Cocoa Accountability Map for Côte d’Ivoire, an interactive map and integrated database covering almost 5,000 cocoa co-ops in the world’s largest cocoa-producing country.

Datasets included in the Cocoa Accountability Map that have never before been made public include the lists of co-ops certified by Rainforest Alliance/UTZ and Fairtrade International as well as supply chain info tracking Hershey’s and Cemoi chocolate down to the co-op level. Co-op information for chocolate giants like Lindt, Nestle, Valhrona, and others are also included.

“For the first time, companies and certification organizations have made their supply chain information available, allowing us – and now anyone, anywhere – to trace cocoa better and faster,” said Mighty Earth Senior Campaign Director Etelle Higonnet. “In an industry still battling the scourges of child labor and deforestation, transparency is a vital first step to accountability and improvement. The Cocoa Accountability Map is essentially doing what the industry and government promised they would do two years ago: create a joint monitoring mechanism for cocoa. They didn’t do it, so we are doing it for them.”

Mighty Earth’s Cocoa Accountability Map will break new ground and bring an unprecedented level of transparency to the cocoa industry. The map:

  • Shows deforestation alerts nationwide in Côte d’Ivoire and will refresh automatically every 2 weeks, using the IMAGES platform from Vivid Economics and Remote Sensing Applications Consultants, a tool sponsored by the UK Space Agency.
  • Shows the land-use for approximately 1/3 of the cocoa region and will expand to cover the entire country by around March
  • Shows almost all the cocoa co-ops in the country, with almost 5,000 included along with information such as:
    • Name, contact information, number of farmers, area covered, and registration number of the co-op;
    • Whether or not the co-op is certified by Rainforest Alliance/UTZ or Fairtrade International;
    • How close each co-op is to a protected area;
    • And, vitally, who the co-op sells to, wherever we were given that information. Mighty Earth has incorporated supply chain info down to the co-op level for Lindt, Cemoi, Nestle, Hershey’s, Valhrona, and others. Mars has begun the process of providing its information. Certain companies such as Blommer refused to embrace traceability and publish supply chain information. Some companies like ECOM have pledged to do so but have not been as fast as Nestle and others.

“The Cocoa Accountability Map will be a tremendous tool in helping to clean up the cocoa industry,” said Higonnet. “The government and industry can use this directly to check sourcing of their materials. A journalist can use this map to see where deforestation is happening before going to investigate the problem on the ground. An activist can conduct research into a problem like child labor or deforestation and then use the map to quickly get a sense of who might be buying the resultant goods. It’s a game-changer.”

“We applaud the companies that have participated and thank the government of Côte d’Ivoire’s Ministry of Agriculture and Conseil Café Cacao for their courageous leadership in providing the information about their thousands of co-ops, but more must be done. The governments of Ghana, Ecuador, and Cameroon must take similar steps to increase transparency – it is a real shame that Ghana is so far behind Côte d’Ivoire now. Companies like Ferrero and Touton, which never responded to our request for co-op data, must follow suit. And companies like Blommer Chocolate, which flat-out refused to participate, must modernize their thinking and embrace the transparency revolution sweeping their industry. Most crucially, the three largest traders – Barry Callebaut, Cargill, and Olam – must disclose the co-ops they source from.”

Mighty Earth has released this new transparency tool just ahead of the peak deforestation season in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana – January to March – and ahead of a key meeting taking place, where major donors and Ivorian and Ghanaian government officials will be meeting to discuss the future of monitoring deforestation for the Cocoa and Forests Initiative (CFI). The Cocoa Accountability Map is a growing, evolving, and continuously improving tool – any and all additional information sent to Mighty Earth to complete the data will be welcome.

Interactive Map Sets New Standard for Cocoa Transparency and Accountability

For two years now, the cocoa industry and government of Cote d’Ivoire have promised in vain to develop joint monitoring mechanisms, in order to make good on their “Cocoa & Forests Initiative” November 2017 promise of ending deforestation in cocoa. They pledged the “Adoption of a transparent satellite-based monitoring system, the results of which are independently validated, and which provide a deforestation alert, complemented with ground-truthing, as soon as possible upon signature of this Framework, which will be made publicly available for all stakeholders to measure and monitor progress on the overall deforestation target.” This has not happened yet.

Failure to monitor has real impacts. Without data, without knowledge about the problem of forest destruction, without clarity on supply chains, much-needed solutions have remained incomplete or illusory. During the two long years since the Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI) came into being and monitoring was promised, many more forests have been lost, with Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire in fact boasting the top two increases in rates of deforestation in the world in 2018. Rather than ending deforestation, these countries in a way became the two world champions in the realm of speeding up deforestation.

A new peak deforestation season is upon us. Every year, in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, January through March represents the most dangerous and destructive time of year for forests.

We at Mighty Earth could not let this high-risk season go by without trying to do the basic work of a joint monitoring mechanism, to the best of our ability. The new Cocoa Accountability Map seeks to spark a revolution in traceability and transparency in the Ivorian cocoa industry, in the hopes that this trend of openness will spread throughout the country – the world’s top cocoa producer – and then to Ghana and beyond. Our map combines information about where deforestation is taking place, where cocoa is located, where purchase points called “cooperatives” are located, and who is certifying or buying from those cocoa cooperatives.

Happily, we were not alone. The Ivorian Ministry of Agriculture and Conseil Café Cacao participated by publishing information on thousands of coop locations, names, and contacts. We urge Ghana, Ecuador, Cameroon, and other cocoa-producing governments to take the same bold step.

Moreover, for the very first time, Rainforest Alliance, UTZ, and Fair Trade courageously provided us with information on all Ivorian coops they certified. Indeed, UTZ even provided information on coops that were de-certified. Beyond this, progressive companies such as Lindt, Nestle, Hershey’s, Cemoi, Puratos, Halba, and AlterEco, also published some or all of the coops they source from in Cote d’Ivoire. We call on these actors to deepen their leadership and make this traceability global by publishing all the cocoa coops they source from, directly or indirectly, updated annually, worldwide.

Other companies like Mars and ECOM indicated that they will soon publish the information regarding which cocoa coops they source from in Cote d’Ivoire and beyond. We urge them to do so as rapidly as possible. Forests are being felled for cocoa every passing day in West and Central Africa, Latin America, and Asia, and without the full cooperation of all major cocoa and chocolate companies, impunity will thrive and accountability will be harder to achieve for the sector.

Still more companies have not yet answered one way or the other, such as Ferrero, Mondelez, Olam, or Touton – or like Blommer, which outright refused to participate in this level of transparency on their supply chains. We ask these groups what they are hiding, and call on them to become good corporate citizens and to embrace traceability, now. Every company is needed. Crimes and abuses thrive in opacity, just as solutions thrive in the sunlight.

In addition, Mighty Earth implores all donors currently funding relevant mapping exercises: public money must go to public good. If you are financing satellite providers or analysts currently working on landuse maps or deforestation alerts, their information must be open to the public.

Moreover, we call on all stakeholders in all cocoa-producing countries, whether they be in industry, government, or civil society, to assist Mighty Earth in helping the traceability revolution to flourish. This can become a crowdsourcing exercise in the best sense of the word. Though our map is by no means perfect now, since many elements remain incomplete and we rely on others to provide accurate data, we hope and believe that with more actors coming together to help, it will be possible to continuously improve the map. This map can be handed over for free to parties staffing the long-promised joint monitoring mechanism for Cote d’Ivoire, once it is up and running. Until that mechanism is established, we at Mighty Earth will do our best to continue to work towards accountability and reporting.

A few words about the map itself. First: The deforestation alerts on this map refresh automatically every two weeks. (It will be vital for the Ivorian monitoring system, once it is set up, to step up vigilance during the January – March peak deforestation season, and to prioritize engagement in risky areas near protected areas and near new deforestation alerts.) Second: The land use elements of this map show which crops can be found where. This currently covers one third of the cocoa belt, but will extend to cover all the cocoa belt by around March 2020 (providing useful information not only to the cocoa sector but also to other forest-risk commodities such as palm oil and rubber). Ideally the land use elements of this map will eventually allow for differentiating between full-sun monoculture cocoa vs more earth-friendly shade-grown cocoa, called “agroforestry”. Third: Certification elements of this map are near-complete though they will be reviewed to ensure no errors have been made. Fourth: The map delineates boundaries of national parks amongst other ecologically important areas, and will add in what are considered locally to be “sacred forests” if possible, through community mapping. Fifth: Coop data and supply chain information about which companies is buying from which coops, will be continuously improved, as new information is made available by the government and industry. Together, we will have the ability to transparently monitor and stop deforestation, and ensure that CFI signatories detect where cocoa farms are expanding into forested lands so they can immediately stop it, and remedy the deforestation.

As we move into the future: a successful monitoring system must not only analyze and visualize deforestation/cocoa/supply chain data all the way down to the farm level (which is even further than the coop level), but also engage in field visits, and maintain a system of accountability for wrongdoing where companies and entities involved in buying or selling deforestation cocoa compensate for and remedy harms found in their supply chains. We hope that all deforestation monitoring mechanisms worldwide will also address child labor and human rights issues which often go hand in hand with environmental abuses, and that the mechanisms will be established so that they can easily communicate with each other and share information across databases, with compatible systems.

Several companies are already doing this kind of monitoring for their own supply chains, leading to duplication of efforts and wasted money and time. By acting together and combining forces, we can achieve harmonization, cost-savings, and efficiency in one unified database.

We at Mighty Earth have done the best we could with what we had. We now urge the industry, governments, civil society, and donors to join us, and help move the needle for an even better traceability and transparency revolution in chocolate.

Mighty Earth's Etelle Higonnet Named to France's National Order of Merit

French President Emmanuel Macron has named Mighty Earth Senior Campaign Director Etelle Higonnet (bio) a Chevalier of France’s Ordre national du Mérite (National Order of Merit), honoring her for her work to protect the environment. Mighty Earth Chairman Henry Waxman and CEO Glenn Hurowitz released the following statements celebrating the news.

Mighty Earth Chairman and former Congressman Henry Waxman:

"Etelle’s accomplishments – including transforming the cocoa industry and her pioneering legal work to drive major French and international companies to address serious human rights and environmental issues throughout their supply chains – are extraordinary. She is an inspiration to the team, a model for effective advocacy, and a truly wonderful person. I am so pleased that France has recognized her with this prestigious honor.

"At a time when too many governments are shirking their duty to protect the environment and address the climate crisis, Etelle is a force both of and for nature. I am honored to work alongside her and offer my sincere congratulations."

Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz:

"Etelle is a towering figure in the global movement to protect the world’s forests, solve the climate crisis, and advance fundamental human rights.

"Etelle has been able to drive the transformation of some of the biggest industries in the world – cocoa, rubber, soy, and more – because of the way she combines her irresistible reservoir of moral force with a charm that inspires organizations, governments, and even cynical corporate executives to want to change.

"It is fitting that she has been awarded the Order of Merit. Those who do this work best do it not for external recognition but to have an impact on the world, and that is triply true of Etelle. But that kind of selfless commitment deserves celebration, and we hope that Etelle will serve as an example that will inspire many more people to understand the extraordinary changes that a combination of commitment and intelligence can achieve."

Despite laudable goals, CFI must improve

Since November 2017, the chocolate industry has embraced the goal of ending deforestation in cocoa. Coordinated largely through the Cocoa and Forests Initiative (CFI), there has been an unmistakable trend towards ending deforestation, joint industry action, traceability, transparency, agroforestry, as well as other sustainable agricultural practices.

Unfortunately, despite these laudable efforts, deforestation linked to cocoa production in the top two cocoa-producing nations of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire has increased — not decreased — during this same two-year time period.

As we mark two years of the CFI, Mighty Earth has thus published a new white paper: “Cocoa and African Deforestation: Assessing the Cocoa and Forests Initiative in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.” This analyzes the CFI’s shortcomings and provides suggestions for improvement. While not a comprehensive evaluation, the paper aims to focus the attention of the signatories of the Joint Framework for Action on the need for clear impact, and key steps for achieving success in eradicating forest destruction. The white paper is also available in French.

In the months and years ahead, we believe that the world must bring increased focus to sustainable supply chains across the agricultural sector. We hope that cocoa will lead the way forward in commodity agriculture by ending deforestation in practice rather than on paper, and by embracing agroforestry to regreen devastated landscapes, as the world combats our wider climate and biodiversity crises.

Deforestation Continues Because Companies Aren't Trying

A new assessment released by Climate Focus has found that an area of tree cover the size of the United Kingdom was lost every year between 2014 and 2018. The assessment suggests that achieving the 2020 New York Declaration on Forests targets is now likely impossible. In response to the new report, Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz released the following statement:

"Forests are burning in large measure because the big companies that committed to save them are not actually trying to do so. Companies like Ahold Delhaize, McDonald’s, and Mars are, despite all their pledges, continuing to do business on a vast scale with the very companies most responsible for this deforestation, such as Cargill and JBS. Not only are these companies directly financing deforestation, they have repeatedly lobbied governments to stop basic environmental protections. Nobody doing business with Cargill and JBS can credibly say they are concerned about deforestation.

"The tragedy of these findings is that they also demonstrate that success is possible. Companies can achieve dramatic progress when they actually make an effort. These same companies have largely, though imperfectly, enforced their no deforestation polices in the palm oil industry, and the results on the ground show it: deforestation for palm oil has declined from 1 million acres a year to 200,000 acres per year. This is, of course, still 200,000 acres of deforestation too many, but it also shows real progress is possible."

Additional resources:


Companies Support Higher Cocoa Prices for Farmers

Companies Support Higher Cocoa Prices for Farmers

Mighty Earth collected statements from industry with varying level of support for the much-needed price increase for cocoa to protect farmers. While we do not in any way endorse these statements, they serve to debunk the notion that industry will not support a price increase.

We call on companies which have yet to publicly commit to paying a better price –  such as Nestle, Sucden, Fuji Oils, and Pladis – to do so forthwith.

We hope this encourages other producer countries to set a price floor, like Cameroon, Nigeria, Indonesia, Ecuador, Brazil, and Peru. We ask all producer countries’ cocoa regulatory bodes to commit to ensuring all cocoa farmers earn a living income, worldwide.

Efforts must not be limited to supporting Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana but must aim at ensuring a minimum price for cocoa farmers across the globe.

Alter Eco: “Alter Eco fully supports the efforts of the governments of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire to increase the price of cocoa. We in fact would support them moving beyond $2,700 FOB to the price necessary to guarantee cocoa farmers a living income. Indeed, we also call on other cocoa producing countries to do the same. Alter Eco sources amongst others from Ecuador and we would warmly welcome any Ecuadorean move to match the Ivorian and Ghanaian courageous initiative to improve farmer livelihoods. We would support a global floor price. Our preference would be for that floor price to go directly into the pockets of famers, with transparency and traceability to ensure those who need it most are receiving this improved price. Moreover all our cocoa is deforestation-free and all of our volumes are heading towards agroforestry – as we are aware that a commodity price increase can trigger deforestation, so we call on all governments and companies supporting a floor price to simultaneously crack down on deforestation in their supply chains and embrace robust agroforestry everywhere. Let’s welcome the positive developments in West Africa and look towards all companies and producer countries to move the positive agenda forward rapidly.”

Barry Callebaut: “It is the execution on this topic, which matters tremendously. It is a fact that the floor price will be implemented by the Ghanaian and Ivorian government. We agree to that principle, but next to the opportunities there are risks. The Barry Callebaut statement is a reflection of the conditions that have to be fulfilled in order for the floor price to have the intended results for farmers, and not lead to further deforestation.” “As the biggest buyer of cocoa in the world we welcome the initiative of the Ivory Coast and Ghana governments to support cocoa farmer income. We are therefore already working with the government and other companies to have a smooth implementation of the living income differential. We remain committed to continue to lead on sustainability as defined by our Forever Chocolate objectives and this does not change, if anything continues to gather momentum. All this does not preclude the fact that in the living income differential discussions there has been little space to embrace much needed discussions on some potential risks highlighted on sustainability. This does not diminish our commitment to sustainability but our responsibility as a sustainable operator focused on impact is to highlight challenges of a changing environment.”

Blommer: “Recently, the Governments of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire engaged the cocoa and chocolate industry in a series of meetings to discuss options around new pricing structures aimed at providing cocoa farmers greater value for their cocoa. Blommer believes that cocoa farmers should earn sufficient income to ensure a decent standard of living. Through our Sustainable Origins platform we are working closely with producing governments, farmer organizations, and other development partners on many initiatives to catalyze the transformation of traditional farms into diversified, sustainable, and profitable businesses. These efforts are also necessary to boost farmer income but they may not be enough without increased remuneration to farmers for their crop. We therefore support the overall goal of the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to increase farmer remuneration. Developing new and innovative methods to achieve this should remain a priority while maintaining a continued focus on the critical work being done under the industry’s sustainability activities. We look forward to our continued partnership and collaboration with Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to ensure a sustainable and thriving cocoa sector – where farmers prosper, cocoa-growing communities are empowered, human rights are respected, and the environment is conserved.”

Image result for fuji oil logo

Fuji Oil: “Blommer’s statement on this subject covers not only Blommer but also the whole FUJI OIL Group.”

Cargill: “Cargill s’engage de manière durable auprès des agriculteurs et de gouvernements ivoiriens et ghanéens. Chez Cargill (, nous partageons l’ambition, exprimée par les gouvernements de la Côte d’Ivoire et du Ghana, d’améliorer le revenu des producteurs de cacao et d’assurer la durabilité à long terme du secteur. Nous saluons la volonté des deux gouvernements, d’établir un prix plancher minimum pour les fèves de cacao et affirmons notre engagement à faire davantage pour veiller à ce que cette mesure permette d’accroitre de façon durable les revenus des agriculteurs. Nous sommes impatients de collaborer étroitement avec le Conseil Café Cacao et le Cocobod afin de réaliser des changements positifs fondamentaux dans le secteur du cacao.” [Unofficial translation: Cargill is making a long-term commitment to Ivorian and Ghanaian farmers and governments. At Cargill (, we share the ambition of the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to improve the income of cocoa farmers and ensure the long-term sustainability of the sector. We applaud the willingness of both governments to set a minimum floor price for cocoa beans and affirm our commitment to do more to ensure that this measure leads to sustainable increases in farmers’ incomes. We look forward to working closely with the Coffee Cocoa Council and Cocobod to achieve fundamental positive changes in the cocoa sector.]

ECOM: “ECOM welcomes any initiative working towards ensuring a decent standard of living for cocoa farmers. We look forward to our continued discussions with the Conseil Café Cacao of Côte d’Ivoire, Cocobod of Ghana and other industry players to ensure a sustainable and thriving cocoa sector. We are currently awaiting additional information that will be shared by the two governments regarding details of the mechanism.”

Fair Trade: on the 1st of October 2019, Fairtrade is raising its Minimum Price for conventional cocoa to $2,400 per metric ton, and is raising its Premium for Fairtrade cocoa to $240 per metric ton. For organic cocoa, the Fairtrade Minimum Price will be $2,700. As of this writing, and Unlike UTZ/Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade is the only certification scheme with a global mandatory minimum price (although it still falls short of the Fair Trade Living Income Reference Price). When the market price rises higher than the Fairtrade Minimum Price, producers will receive market prices.

Ferrero: “Ferrero welcomes any efforts of the governments of Ivory Coast and Ghana to relieve cocoa farmer poverty as we believe that cocoa farmers should earn sufficient income to ensure a decent standard of living. Any efforts should also tackle the broader development challenges in cocoa growing communities, including child labor and deforestation.”

Godiva: “GODIVA supports any efforts to lift cocoa growing communities in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana out of poverty, and protect the future of cocoa farming and farmers.”

Halba: “We fully support the new floor price announced by Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. The payment of such a price is already a great step forward.” We would appreciate it very much, if at least 70 – 80% of that price would reach the farmer.

Hershey: “At Hershey, we have long supported initiatives that improve the livelihoods of farmers. Cocoa farmers should be able to support their families and earn a decent standard of living and we support the goal of raising farmer incomes. Hershey, along with the entire industry, will be working with these governments to further understand their proposals to increase farmer incomes. Any plans would need to be implemented carefully to ensure they do not create imbalances in the long-term supply of cocoa that could result in surpluses and destabilize the market, which ultimately hurts farmers. The plans also need to guard against new production on protected forest land. We want to work together with the governments to see an increased share of the global cocoa price transferred to farmers through the government-regulated farmgate price. These are complicated, but important issues. We look forward to joining with the rest of the industry to continue these discussions with the governments and other partners to improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers and the sustainability of cocoa farming long into the future.”

Lindt & Sprüngli: “Our sustainable cocoa program – the Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program – aims at decent and resilient livelihoods of todays and future cocoa farmers and their families. While increased farm gate prices are an important measure to improve livelihoods, we follow a holistic approach to increase the net-income of cocoa farming households delivering to us, which includes a sustainable intensification of cocoa cultivation, the creation of additional income sources, a stabilization of cash flow and secured income, as well as the improvement of community infrastructure. Especially Ghana is an important origin for us. We therefore support the Governments’ efforts to contribute to improved cocoa livelihoods, and will follow the developments closely.”

Mars: “U.S. food maker Mars Inc. supports a decision by Ivory Coast and Ghana to set a floor price for their cocoa exports, a senior executive told Reuters on Wednesday, becoming one of the first major chocolate companies to back the initiative. ‘We support moves by governments to intervene to achieve a higher price that leads to a sustainable increase paid to the farmer and is supported with governance to ensure there is no further expansion of land use to grow cocoa,’ Ament said. ‘Initiatives to boost productivity, improvements in social services and infrastructure, and exploration of alternative incomes are necessary, but they will likely not be enough without an increase in the price farmers receive for their crop,’ Ament said.”

Mondelez: “We believe cocoa farmers should earn sufficient income to provide a decent standard of living today as well as to safeguard the sustainable future livelihoods for the cocoa farmers of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. With Cocoa Life, our holistic cocoa sustainability program, we work on the ground, with the cocoa farmers and our partners to tackle the complex challenges that cocoa growing communities face. Partnerships are key to creating the right environment for lasting change. We welcome the Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire’s governments’ efforts to address cocoa farmer income through the Living Income Differential as an important building block to achieve a sustainable livelihood from cocoa. We also believe this is a unique opportunity to create the necessary partnerships to ensure the long-term beneficial effect of the new pricing approach and look forward to collaborating with both governments to ensure no further deforestation will take place and human rights will be protected. A sector-wide strategy with coordinated actions by all stakeholders of the value chain is needed to catalyze the transformation of cocoa farming into modern, sustainable, and profitable businesses that provide sustainable livelihoods for cocoa growing families.”

Olam“Olam Cocoa is committed to improving the livelihoods of cocoa farmers and communities, and to preventing forest degradation. We share the ambition of the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to establish a pricing structure which guarantees a minimum price for cocoa farmers, and strengthens progress towards a sustainable cocoa supply chain that improves farmer livelihoods and protects forests. You can see more of what we’re doing to tackle farmer poverty and its associated ills, in our last Cocoa Sustainability Report – as of the end of last year we had nearly 230,000 cocoa farmers enrolled in programmes to support their livelihoods, including 43,000 new farmers in 2018.”

Uncommon Cacao: “At Uncommon Cacao, we believe farmer prosperity is a key ingredient in good chocolate. Transparent, sustainable prices for both farmers and exporters that cover costs of production are an important factor in enabling producers to earn at least a living income from their cacao farm. We support country- and context-specific export price floors, as long as they are tied to transparent farmgate price floors, are based on impartial research and cross-sector collaboration, and seek to improve farmer prosperity. We encourage all cacao market actors to always consider these prices as floors and never ceilings. The price floor announced by Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire and the Living Income Differential are key steps towards creating better outcomes for farmers and the industry, but we still see this as just the beginning. Cacao farmer prosperity depends on the commitment of producers, governments, intermediaries and chocolate companies to pay more for cacao and catalyze broader systems change.”

Tony’s Chocolonely: Tony’s Chocolonely exists to change the cocoa industry. Without paying a higher price, the chocolate industry will never solve issues in their supply chain and live up to their commitment in the Harkin Engel Protocol. Chocolate companies should be asked the simple question: How much profit are you willing to take, at the expense of a living income for farmers. Perpetuating extreme poverty, leads to modern slavery, illegal child labour and deforestation. It’s a matter of choice, as simple as that. Tony’s commits to more than just a minimum price. On top of the farmgate price and the Fairtrade premium, we pay an additional premium up to the living income reference price – the new industry benchmark. We pay this higher price as part of our 5 sourcing principles (higher price, strong farmers, productivity and diversification, long term commitments, 100% traceability). And we share our model, knowledge and network Tony’s Chocolonely exists to change the inequality in the system and we invite all others to join, cause only together we will make the whole chocolate industry 100% slavefree.

Florence Pradier, secrétaire générale du syndicat français du chocolat: « Nous sommes d’accord pour réduire la pauvreté des planteurs, mais si nous mettons la main à la poche, c’est pour s’assurer qu’au moins 70 % des 2 600 dollars la tonne promis aillent aux planteurs ». [Translation: We agree to reduce the poverty of the planters, but if we put our hands in our pockets, it is to ensure that at least 70% of the $ 2,600 a tonne promised goes to the planters.]

Cemoi:Of course we support minimum price !« Pour notre part, nous partageons l’avis des gouvernements de la Côte d’Ivoire et du Ghana selon lequel le prix du cacao est un facteur déterminant du revenu des planteurs. Nous partageons l’objectif d’une culture plus durable du cacao et soutenons la hausse des prix au planteur et cela va dans le sens de notre programme Transparence Cacao dont l’un des axes principaux est l’amélioration de la qualité de vie du planteur par une rémunération plus juste ».  [Translation: For our part, we share the opinion of the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana that the price of cocoa is a determining factor in the income of farmers. We share the goal of a more sustainable cocoa crop and support the increase of prices to the planter. This is in line with where our program is headed, called Transparency Cocoa, of which a main focus is improving the quality of life of planters with fairer remuneration.]

Image result for valrhona logoValhrona:Valrhona welcomes the commitment of the Ivorian and Ghanaian governments to improve farmers’ income through the establishment of a floor price. We are keen for this this initiative to feed into a wider goal to improve the lives of farmers and their families. However, as time is of the essence, we are also taking action directly. It was unacceptable to us, for example, that farmers would see their incomes slashed as a result of the sudden drop in price on the global market in 2016-17, which is why ever since 2017 we have established a minimum guaranteed farmgate price of 1100 FCFA for our producers in Côte d’Ivoire. This represents approximately 51% more than the minimum price guaranteed by the Ivorian state.  We continue to maintain all of our quality, traceability and community development premiums and to intensify our support to improve living conditions, access to education and training. This measure is a first step towards our goal to enable farming families to earn a living income in the 16 producing countries with which we have long-term partnerships. We continue our work to create a fair and sustainable cocoa sector and support any efforts towards achieving this. We as such welcome the Ivorian and Ghanaian governments initiative and look forward to future developments across the sector.”

Image result for sucden logoSucden: “Sucden strongly supports programs that result in cocoa farmers receiving a fair price for their cocoa and greater incomes for their efforts. We implement direct assistance to farmers in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire to achieve greater income from improved sustainable farming methods.

We have actively supported the implementation of the Living Income Differential initiative of the CCC and CMC by purchasing cocoa that includes the LID. We continue to support mechanisms that allow farmers a fair price and improve farmer incomes, while also preventing deforestation, forced and child labour.”

Standing up for forests and farmers

Mighty Earth applauds the government of Cote d’Ivoire for seeking to better protect its forests and for its willingness to move towards a greener future, putting behind the bitter past of losing 85 percent of its forests since 1990. Likewise, we welcome positive elements in the new Ivorian forest code, recently adopted by the Ivorian National Assembly.

However—we are gravely concerned by the implications of mass evictions from parks and protected areas.  Incentivized by decades of the $100-billion-a-year chocolate industry turning a bind eye to forest destruction and funding illegal cocoa production in these areas, 1.5 - 2 million people thought to be living illegally in the parks and protected areas of Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana

In its declaration, the Ministre des Eaux et Forêts was clear that protected areas will be emptied of their inhabitants.

We call urgently for the recognition and respect of the human rights of these  inhabitants. These people have rights and must be protected from abuses.

Published below is our recent Joint Human Rights Watch-Mighty Earth Cote d'Ivoire Dispatch regarding the urgent need to guarantee the human rights of illegal cocoa farmers. Also below is  a 2018 open letter, co-signed by Mighty Earth, Human Rights Watch (HRW), Le Regroupement des Acteurs Ivoiriens des Droits de l'Homme(RAIDH), and Fern, regarding egregious abuses of illegal cocoa farmers inside the Ivorian national park of Marahoue.

This previously unpublished letter presents the findings of a joint investigation to the government of Cote d’Ivoire.  Following unsuccessful negotiations with the government, led by senior environmental advisor to the president, Dr. Mamadou Fofana, authorities declared that the government of Cote d’Ivoire would refuse to hold any perpetrators accountable or to compensate victims in any way. Given the risks that farmers now face, the Marahoue case has renewed relevance, and so we publish it today, along with videos and photos taken during the Marahoue field investigation.

We call on the Ivorian authorities to protect human rights and allow independent civil society monitors to observe any actions taken. In parallel, we call upon the chocolate industry to create a humanitarian aid fund to compensate farmers who are expelled from parks and protected areas. Having created the conditions leading to the illegal occupations of these areas the industry has a moral responsibility to finance solutions, and assist expelled farmers in rebuilding their lives.

Farmers Face New Round of Eviction from Protected Forests in Côte d’Ivoire

Government Should Ensure Small-Scale Farmers Receive Adequate Notice, Compensation

Jim Wormington, Researcher, Human Rights Watch
Etelle Higonnet, Campaign and Legal Director, Mighty Earth

Côte d’Ivoire, fighting widespread and rapidly advancing deforestation, is embarking on an ambitious plan to reclaim and rehabilitate its forests. As it moves to protect a key national resource, the government needs to be careful not to trample of the rights of the thousands of small-scale farmers now facing eviction.

Côte d’Ivoire has seen its forest decline from 50 percent of its territory in 1900 to less than 12 percent in 2015. Much of the deforestation has been driven by Côte d’Ivoire’s cocoa industry – the world’s biggest – with the government estimating between 30 and 40 percent of cocoa comes from protected forests. Most cocoa is produced by small-scale farmers who receive only a fraction of the profits from crop sales.

In June 2018, Côte d’Ivoire published a new forestry policy that would convert most of its decimated protected forests to Agro-Forests, with multinational companies – mostly from the lucrative global chocolate industry – responsible for developing sustainable agroforestry cocoa farming methods. For the remaining forests, the Ministry for Water and Forests proposes to strictly enforce long-neglected laws banning farming and occupying protected forests and national parks.

The implementation of the new forestry policy will likely result in the evictions of thousands of small-scale cocoa farmers, with an estimated 1.5 to 2 million cocoa farmers living in protected forests and national parks in Côte d’Ivoire and neighboring Ghana. The Ivorian protected forest of Scio, for example, where thousands of people live, reportedly received notice of an eviction operation planned for July.

Although the Ivorian government has the right to reclaim forests intended for conservation, international law protects anyone who occupies land from forced evictions that do not respect the dignity and rights of those affected, regardless of where they are living.

Past eviction operations in Côte d’Ivoire have left farmers’ families without adequate shelter, food, and education, and we have documented extortion, corruption, and physical abuses committed by government agents conducting evictions. In an October 2017 letter on the creation of Agro-Forests, we also warned that large agricultural companies often fail to protect the rights of small-scale farmers, especially when national regulations are unclear or not enforced.

The Ivorian government is right to want to protect and rehabilitate forests. But it should ensure that evictions are only used as a last resort and farmers receive adequate notice, compensation for property and crops, and assistance finding new land or obtaining new livelihoods. Measures to protect the environment, such as the protection of protected forests, should be implemented while respecting the rights of those who live in the area.

This piece is crossposted from Human Rights Watch

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More photos and videos.

Read Marahoue letter in French here.

Read Marahoue letter in English here.

Cargill Named "Worst Company in the World"

Cargill Named "Worst Company in the World"

New report documents US-based agribusiness giant’s “ineptitude and incoherence at a grand scale.”

This press release is available in French, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese and German.

July 11, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Environmental campaign organization Mighty Earth announced today that it had named Minnesota-based Cargill as the “Worst Company in the World” due to its unscrupulous business practices, environmental destruction, and repeated insistence on standing in the way of global progress on sustainability. Mighty Earth’s new report, “Cargill: The Worst Company in the World,” documents decades of bad acts by the company and highlights the need for urgent action. The report is available in Spanish, Dutch, French, Portuguese and German.

“In my 40-year long career in Congress, I took on a range of companies that engaged in abusive practices,” former congressman and Mighty Earth Chairman Henry Waxman writes in the report. “I have seen firsthand the harmful impact of businesses that do not bring their ethics with them to work. But Cargill stands out.”

“As one of the largest companies in the world, Cargill has a responsibility to address its outsized impact,” Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz said. “Mighty Earth runs campaigns around the globe to advocate for sustainable business practices, and Cargill kept showing up when our investigations identified bad actors. Whether we were working on palm oil in Southeast Asia, cocoa farming in West Africa, or soy cultivation in South America, Cargill was always there, ready to thwart progress and impede joint conservation efforts. Given their ubiquity and obstinance, we decided it was time to take a closer look at their checkered past.”

For months, Mighty Earth has engaged in discussions with Cargill, including at the CEO level, to address the report’s findings and seek long-term solutions. Mighty Earth has served as a key convener for other sectors – including rubber, chocolate, and palm oil – as those companies sought to improve their environmental standards and impacts. However, Cargill has refused, time and time again, to substantively address the problems Mighty Earth identified. Instead, Cargill continues to prioritize the deforesters in its supply chains over the climate or their customers’ sustainability demands.

“In press releases and public statements, the agribusiness giant Cargill presents itself as frustrated with deforestation, as though it were some externality they have no control over, like bad weather,” Hurowitz said. “But deforestation isn’t something that’s happening to Cargill, it’s something that Cargill is doing.”

Mighty Earth’s new report identifies Ahold Delhaize – an international supermarket giant that owns Stop & Shop, Giant, Food Lion, Hannaford, and many other brands – as a key customer of Cargill that could take immediate action. Ahold Delhaize, despite its own corporate sustainability pledges, recently broke ground on a new meat packaging facility in Rhode Island as a joint venture with Cargill.

“It’s important for Ahold Delhaize and other Cargill customers to set new sourcing standards that eliminate deforestation from their supply chains. They have the power to force Cargill’s hand, but continued inaction makes them complicit in Cargill’s malfeasance,” said Mighty Earth Senior Director for Forests Mat Jacobson. “Cargill has only gotten away with its bad behavior for so long because it is not a consumer-facing brand. But if folks knew the food they get at McDonald’s, Stop & Shop, or Target was destroying the rainforests or had been produced with child slavery, they’d be shocked.”

The release of Mighty Earth’s groundbreaking report kicks-off a multimillion-dollar, multi-year campaign targeting Cargill and its customers that will urge the agribusiness giant to eliminate deforestation and human rights abuses from its supply chain. To launch the campaign, local Mighty Earth activists and allies including Minnesota Clean Water Action honored Cargill for its dubious distinction with a rally outside Cargill headquarters in Minnesota at which it awarded the company a “thumbs down” placard.

About the Report

Major findings:

  • Cargill is poised to further wreak havoc on fragile ecosystems in Brazil, taking advantage of President Bolsonaro’s rollback of vital environmental protections. In 2014, Cargill pledged to end deforestation for all commodities in its supply chain by 2020. With just one year left, Cargill has continued to incentivize deforestation, remained one of the worst actors on the world stage, and now stands poised to embrace the dawning of a Bolsonaro-era free-for-all in Brazil’s forests.
  • In November 2017, Cargill was fined $10 million by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission for years of deliberately misreporting its trade values – by up to 90 percent – in order to defraud both the government and its trading partners. In October 2018, David Dines, the Cargill executive responsible for these violations, was promoted to Chief Financial Officer.
  • Indigenous peoples who depend on forests have had their land encroached upon by Cargill-linked soy plantations in Brazil. They have been forced off of their traditional lands and have experienced sharp increases in cancer, birth defects, miscarriages, and other illnesses linked to pesticides and herbicides used to grow soy – often sprayed by planes directly overhead.
  • Cargill is one of the top ten polluters in the US food industry for more than a dozen pollutants, including formaldehyde, lead, asbestos, hydrogen cyanide, and mercury.

Photo and video assets relating to the report and Cargill’s operations across different commodities are available for media.

Contact: Alex Armstrong, [email protected]