Today, the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) launches its 2021 annual report. 2021 was the first year of the organisation's new five-year strategy, the overarching aim of which is to cover 100% of the cocoa supply chain in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana with systems that prevent and address child labour by 2025. With a continued focus on innovation and learning, technical advocacy, and capacity strengthening, the work in 2021 to improve tools, develop new approaches, strengthen systems and promote the uptake of effective practices, in addition to new members and newly introduced member reporting obligations, helped to strengthen the organisation and its ability to achieve these objectives.

The International Year of the Elimination of Child Labour

In recognition of the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, ICI and its members were happy to announce that 590,000 cocoa-growing households were targeted by systems to prevent and address child labour by the end of 2021, surpassing its initial pledge of 540,000 households. This represents about a third of the full cocoa supply chain in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana and is an important step toward the goal to cover 100% by 2025.

Strengthening systems to prevent and address child labour in cocoa

ICI continued to encourage increased adoption of Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems (CLMRS), or equivalent systems, in cocoa-growing communities. The “Benchmarking study: Overview and definition of child labour monitoring and remediation systems” published in 2021, defines a shared understanding of what a CLMRS is, what it needs to do and how to measure success. As such systems are increasingly adopted and implemented by many different actors, the need for clear definitions and benchmarks to track progress has become more important, and the collectively developed Benchmarking study is an important step to support this.

“Throughout the year, we continued to innovate, test out and improve tools and approaches to tackle child labour and forced labour in cocoa,” said ICI Executive Director, Matthias Lange.

Research and innovation to deliver on the 2021-2026 Strategy

The report details important strides made in research and innovation to tackle child labour and forced labour. During the year, ICI explored the impact of cash transfers on child labour, the study “Cash transfers, resilience and child labour in Ghana” was the first of its kind to look at child labour in cocoa-growing communities and found that cash transfers reduced child labour by 16%.

 The study "Risk models to predict child labour: A review of different approaches to identify children at risk of child labour in cocoa” was also published in 2021. The study shows how risk models can help vulnerable households and children to be identified more quickly and at a lower cost, helping to ensure support gets to where it is needed most, in addition to highlighting how important reliable data is to the accuracy of the model.

In addition to the work to tackle child labour, ICI also continued a pilot project on forced labour in 2021, aiming to adapt, develop and test approaches and tools to better identify, prevent and respond to forced labour risks. While the pilot is still ongoing, important strides have been made to raise awareness on forced labour in cocoa-growing communities and build capacity to prevent and tackle it.

“As always, our ability as an organisation to bring different actors together within the sector, and to coordinate and drive progress is our key strength. In 2021, collective benchmarking efforts, collaboration with various national platforms for sustainable cocoa in Europe, with producing countries, and with the World Cocoa Foundation, in addition to our own member reporting requirements, have significantly contributed to setting ambitious standards to aim for,” explained ICI Co-Presidents, Isabelle Adam and Mil Niepold.

Strides toward sector-wide change: accountability, transparency and policy developments

2021 also saw many important policy and regulatory developments. ICI advocated for human rights due diligence legislation at the European level, joining other civil society organisations and cocoa and chocolate companies within the Cocoa Coalition, in addition to collaborating in several European sustainable cocoa platforms and the EU Cocoa Dialogue. Furthermore, the organisation was also actively engaged in the development of ambitious new standards, and the strengthening of existing ones, for example taking part in the review of the FairTrade Standard for Cocoa as well as supporting the development of the implementation guide for the African Standard for Sustainable Cocoa (ARS 1000). In this way ICI was able to share knowledge and experience and learn from others to ensure that the policies and standards that shape the sector benefit cocoa farmers and their families.

In addition, during the year ICI introduced new member reporting requirements, designed to recognize efforts currently being made and motivate further action and investment, in addition to driving the rigour and transparency necessary in the sector. 

View the 2021 Annual Report online here.

Download the pdf version here.