The Cocoa Coalition welcomes the European Commission’s proposed Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence published on 23 February; we regard it as a genuinely ground-breaking legislative proposal. As a coalition of companies, certification organisations, NGOs and multi-stakeholder organisations operating in the cocoa and chocolate sector, we have consistently called for the EU to introduce mandatory obligations of due diligence extending throughout the supply chain. (See our detailed proposals published in 2019 and 2021.)
Requiring companies to work together with their suppliers, supply-chain partners and other stakeholders throughout their supply chains to identify, address and communicate on human rights and environmental risks in their operations and supply chains is essential to achieving the transformation of the cocoa and chocolate sector. In line with the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, which have largely inspired the proposed legislation, we believe that all companies in the cocoa and chocolate sector, regardless of their size, must implement such due diligence obligations; they are well-placed to generate and protect social and environmental benefits through their due diligence efforts.
We recognise that smaller companies may possess simpler supply chains. We do not believe, however, that these companies should be exempted from the due diligence obligation. In a very fragmented end market, the inclusion of smaller players is critical to establish a level playing field and to ensure that all companies do their part and work closer together to improve the sustainability of the cocoa sector.
For the legislation to be fully effective it needs to be coupled with the strengthening of the enabling environment for sustainable cocoa farming, and we therefore also call on the European Commission to make greater efforts to engage in stakeholder dialogue – notably, in the cocoa-sector context, with smallholder farmers and their communities – and to pursue the establishment of bilateral partnership agreements between the EU and cocoa-producing countries. One major objective of this combination of elements – this corporate sustainability due diligence directive, the proposed regulation on deforestation and action on the ground in producer countries – should be to aim to deliver living incomes for cocoa farmers, an essential step in achieving a sustainable cocoa sector.
We look forward to engaging with Members of the European Parliament and representatives of member-state governments in further improving and implementing the proposed directive.
[Note: the Cocoa Coalition comprises companies (Ferrero, Hershey, Mars Wrigley, Mondelēz International, Nestle, Tony’s Chocolonely), certification organisations (Fairtrade International, Rainforest Alliance), NGOs (Fair Trade Advocacy Office, Fern, Solidaridad, VOICE Network) and multi-stakeholder organisations (International Cocoa Initiative).]