2018 Child Labor Cocoa Coordinating Group 8th Annual Meeting Remarks

Author Tim McCoy

Director, Cocoa Partnerships,
Hershey Company

Remarks: Child Labor Cocoa Coordinating Group (CLCCG) Annual Meeting Opening Ceremonies
Sofitel Abidjan Hôtel Ivoire
Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Madame Dominique Ouattara, First Lady of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, President of the National Oversight Committee, and Delegation,

Their Excellencies the President and Vice-President of the Inter-Ministerial Committee,

The Honorable Minister of Employment and Labor Relations from the Republic of Ghana and Delegation,

Madame Deputy Undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Labor and Delegation,

Distinguished Representatives of the International Labor Organisation, UNICEF, and the National Opinion Research Center,

Dear Friends and Partners from the International Cocoa Initiative and Civil Society,

Colleagues from the International Cocoa Organization, the Chocolate and Cocoa Industry, and Cocoa Farmers also present with us,

Traditional and Religious Chiefs,


Ladies and Gentlemen:

Thank you for providing me this opportunity to offer a few remarks on behalf of my colleagues in the chocolate and cocoa industry and to once again enjoy the famous “Akwaaba” and hospitality that are synonymous with being in terre ivoirienne. I want to begin by thanking our hosts, the government of Côte d’Ivoire, and especially First Lady Dominique Ouattara, for your hospitality, leadership and vision in hosting this year’s annual meeting and for your steadfast commitment to protecting children from the worst forms of child labor in cocoa.

I also want to thank the U.S. government team for its partnership and support, specifically the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs, which remains untiring in its work to coordinate efforts to achieve the vision laid out more than a decade ago. To the Government of Ghana, thank you for your obvious commitment to remain actively engaged on the issues that will be discussed this week in Abidjan, as evidenced by the strong delegation that represents you here today.

I want to also acknowledge with gratitude the presence today of a number of corporate representatives from the chocolate and cocoa industry, based here in West Africa as well as Europe and the United States. We welcome our partner ICI, which has actively participated in past CLCCG stakeholder meetings and provides exceptionally valuable, operationally-based technical expertise to industry, governments and civil society about child labor. Since being established in 2002, ICI has effectively served both the industry and its partners in defining, evolving and implementing effective strategies to tackle child labor in cocoa.

The presence of all of you here today is of great importance, because protecting children from the worst forms of child labor across the cocoa growing areas of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire will not succeed without the ideas, time and resources of all who share the vision so well-articulated over the years by the First Lady: Children belong in the classroom and not in the fields.

Today and tomorrow we will be sharing with each other lessons learned from our actions taken over the past year to protect children in cocoa growing communities. There are approximately two million cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana representing 6-8 million children under the age of 18.  We now know that child labor is both a symptom and a self-perpetuating cause of poverty. Households in cocoa growing areas face the realities of rural poverty, and some parents must put their children to work, and keep them out of school, to reduce labor costs on family farms. But this often, in turn, deprives their children of the chance to develop and advance themselves, and so entrenches the household’s impoverishment for subsequent generations. I speak on behalf of WCF President Rick Scobey in challenging all of us to consider what it will really take to reach our goal on behalf of children in cocoa growing communities, and to base our ambitions on what we have learned thus far in our efforts.

Madame First Lady, in 2010, under the Framework of Action, the governments of Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, the U.S. Department of Labor and a small number of chocolate and cocoa companies with U.S. operations jointly committed to reducing the worst forms of child labor by 70 percent in the aggregate across the cocoa-growing regions of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana by 2020. This goal was set without the benefit of very much scientific analysis or historical precedence, but did draw on the worthy principles that Kevin stated earlier and that bear repeating:

  • Establishing child labor monitoring and remediation systems in the cocoa supply chain
  • Remediation through education, vocational training and livelihood support
  • Development of physical and social infrastructures
  • Improving farmer incomes, especially considering the clear majority of cocoa in West Africa is grown on small, family-owned farms

Leading members of the chocolate and cocoa industry have embraced these principles, as we have the more recently announced Sustainable Development Goals, and I will highlight the progress made by the industry in these areas during the Stakeholders Dialogue which follows this opening session.

We are pleased that the annual CLCCG meeting serves as a valuable platform for industry and others in government and civil society to review our actions and determine what made the most difference in our combined efforts to protect children. Even though we likely will fall short of our aspiration for 2020, we view this event as a uniquely valuable opportunity to underscore our unwavering commitment to accelerate and expand the good practices that we have collectively identified.

ICI, WCF and many individual chocolate and cocoa companies already are measuring results and recalibrating activities, based on data that shows what is working and what is not working. This information is absolutely essential for determining our future course of action. We invite our partners in government and civil society to re-double their efforts to do the same. We will not abandon the goal of protecting children, because we know it is the right thing to do and we know that the sustainability of the chocolate and cocoa sector – and by extension the livelihoods of millions of people in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana — depends on it.

Thank you for your kind attention.

Remarks: CLCCG Principals Meeting Roundtable
“How Do We Better Leverage Resources and Build New Partnerships to Scale Up Action Against Child Labor?”
Wednesday, July 18, 2018

With your permission, I would like to make a few brief remarks on behalf of industry and then share the remainder of my time with three individuals who each represent different companies in the chocolate and cocoa supply chain. I think that it is important that we also hear these companies’ points of view on the theme that this panel is addressing.

First, though, and to answer the key theme of this session, we all recognize that any desire to congratulate ourselves on the progress made over the past 17 years since the beginning of the Harkin-Engel process is offset by knowing, simply, that too many children remain involved in the worst forms of child labor. The organized supply chains of a handful of companies reach only a fraction of the entire cocoa-growing population of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, and efforts to date have only reached a fraction of the farmers in those supply-chains.  Ensuring that all three governments remain committed to protecting children in the cocoa sector is therefore a crucial additional factor as we work to continue in a collaborative fashion that helps ensure that progress continues, and that children’s well-being remains at the center of our attention. I am very encouraged by what we have seen here this week in terms of these governments’ commitment, including to public-private partnerships.

We must also bring in new donors and stakeholders to this process if we are to achieve success. These groups can bring a wide range of resources to our efforts, including importantly new perspectives and valuable expertise.  As just one example, yesterday I listened as Tomoko Shiroki from ACE-Japan spoke to a small group of us passionately about the need to better understand and monitor how migration contributes to child labor.  The Jacobs Foundation’s TRECC Initiative, and the presence of ICI, ILO and UNICEF, are still more examples of how new voices are being heard and are bringing exceptionally valuable input to our discussions.

So, in other words, we need to move beyond the relatively small group of stakeholders that have been mostly involved in this process over the years and include others.  The World Cocoa Foundation and our partners in the Ivorian and Ghanaian governments, as well as IDH and other groups, have recently launched the Cocoa & Forests Initiative and there may well be valuable lessons from that experience that could be applied to the CLCCG process as we think about how to include new partners and stakeholders.

Of course, clearly defining the roles and responsibilities among all these stakeholders will be incredibly important if we hope to be truly effective.

As I mentioned yesterday during the Stakeholders meeting, we can share a proud history, by some accounts unparalleled in the commodity world, of what we have accomplished over the past 17 years.  But we are challenged to think about the next steps in realizing the vision of protecting all children from the worst forms of child labor.  What practical knowledge have we gained over the past years?  What best practices exist that can help us revisit and reshape our efforts?  How do we base our timelines for achieving future successes on data, including what we have learned over the years and others’ experiences?  We know that the simple act of setting targets is not sufficient to inform what must be done to reach the targets that we set for ourselves.  Knowing what must be done is informed by data.

Clearly, this points to some of the areas where industry is aligned in its thinking on priorities.  Included here is the need for a robust monitoring and evaluation system, which is essential if we are to truly know what is working and should be expanded or scaled up, and what is not working and should be discarded.  While we are confident that child labor monitoring and remediation systems within companies’ supply chains hold great promise, we must also be willing to learn more about how these systems can be continually improved to achieve more impact.

We also heard yesterday about the need for continued education and training in communities, the important role played by women in cocoa-growing communities, as well as the direct link between poverty and child labor.  Industry’s commitments, including through CocoaAction, remain steadfast in both these areas and can be expected to continue into the future.

In closing my remarks here and before inviting industry colleagues to speak, I would like to emphasize that, even though we may expect to fall short of a specific goal for 2020 — and must recognize that other targets such as the Sustainable Development Goal for the eradication of child labor by 2025 may be equally difficult to achieve — as Principals who all have invested much time and effort into this process, we must share as broadly as possible the details of what we have achieved and what we plan to continue to pursue beyond 2020. How we decide to communicate to the broadest possible audience our commitment, and the countless actions taken by us that underpin it, will determine whether, when the NORC survey is released, we will be seen as catalysts for truly measurable positive change in the lives of children in the cocoa growing regions of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

Thank you for your attention. I would now like to invite I’d now like to ask Andres Tschannen from Barry Callebaut, Jeff Morgan from Mars, Incorporated and Mbalo Ndiaye from Mondelēz, who also serves as Vice-President of the Public-Private Partnership Platform here in Côte d’Ivoire, to share perspectives on how their companies are leveraging resources and building partnerships to protect children of farmers within their company supply chains.