Two decades ago, Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems (CLMRS) were developed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and later adapted for use in the cocoa sector. Since then, their use to identify, monitor, address and prevent child labour has expanded greatly. Today, these systems are estimated to cover around 25% of the cocoa supply chain in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana and their expansion is set to continue. Industry and multi-stakeholder bodies, including the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), and several national platforms for sustainable cocoa in Europe, have all pledged to scale up their coverage. In tandem, civil society groups have called for the expansion of these systems while underlining the need for clear standard definitions and benchmarks.1 In a recent collaborative study, which proposes CLMRS definitions and indicators, ICI, European cocoa platforms and their members aim to foster greater harmonisation and alignment to catalyze the scale up of effective systems to cover 100% of cocoa households in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana by 2025.

The use of monitoring systems to tackle child labour is expanding in the cocoa sector, while in tandem civil society has underlined the need for greater standardisation and coordination. To support the scale-up of effective systems to prevent, monitor and remediate child labour, and respond to these calls, a new study by ICI provides a common operational definition of a CLMRS and sets out key indicators to monitor progress.

Commissioned by the Swiss Platform for Sustainable Cocoa, the study aims to encourage alignment in the way these systems are implemented and to promote transparent reporting on coverage and performance. Throughout the process of conducting this review, input and feedback were sought from the Swiss, German, Dutch and Belgian Platforms for sustainable cocoa and their members, who have validated the findings and the operational definition.

ICI began by mapping existing systems to prevent, monitor and address child labour in the cocoa sector. Using information provided by governments, industry, civil society, international organizations, and multi-stakeholder initiatives, the mapping exercise identified common ground around the main elements within the different systems, as well as some key differences.

The findings were used to develop a common definition, stating that a CLMRS must be able to successfully implement four core activities:

  • Raise awareness on child labour and resulting harm amongst farmers, children and members of the wider community.
  • Identify children in child labour through an active monitoring process, using standardized data collection tools.
  • Provide both prevention and remediation support to children in child labour, and others at risk, and document the support provided.
  • Follow-up with children identified in child labour to monitor their status on a regular basis until they have stopped engaging in child labour.

The collaborative study also resulted in a set of key indicators, against which implementers will be expected to report. These include the number of households and children monitored by a CLMRS; the number and percentage of children identified in child labour; whether children receive prevention and remediation support; and whether identified children stop working. These indicators will feed into a harmonised reporting framework, which will be used by members of ICI, WCF and the national platforms in Europe to monitor progress in preventing and addressing child labour.

“The multi-stakeholder review process and the resulting operational definition represent an exciting step forwards in supporting cocoa sector actors to implement effective Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems. Promoting alignment and coordinated action to tackle child labour at scale is a key part of our new strategy” said Nick Weatherill, ICI’s Executive Director. “As the definition and indicators are based upon broad agreement of practitioners and experts from within the cocoa sector, this should lead to more consistent and transparent reporting, helping us to better understand and improve the effectiveness of CLMRS, and to ensure real impact for those children we are all working to protect.”

Read “Overview and definition of child labour monitoring and remediation systems

1 Cocoa Barometer, 2020. p.100