The International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) has joined the Dutch and Belgium Cocoa Initiatives, fondly known as DISCO and Beyond Chocolate respectively. 

The ICI focuses on child labour in the cocoa industry, while DISCO and Beyond Chocolate consider wider sustainability issues. The announcement on 5th October follows similar agreements with the German and Swiss initiatives known as (GISCO) and (SWISSCO), earlier this year.

The fact that there are so many of these national initiatives, and that they now have a collective noun to describe them – they are collectively referred to as the ‘ISCO’s’, is an indication of how fragmented it has become.

ICI’s request to join the Dutch and Belgium ISCO’s were voted through by the steering committees, and the expectation is that ICI will be able to bring their expertise to the child labour element of the sustainability problem.

During its latest meeting, the DISCO Steering Committee unanimously agreed to add ICI to the DISCO partnership. ICI is seen as an important international organization addressing child labour in cocoa, bringing its experience and expertise on child labour to the DISCO partnership, while also being important for increased European alignment on this topic. – Mark de Waard, Senior Programme Officer for Cocoa at IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative

In researching ICI’s last annual report for 2020, you find some high-level information about their methodology in deploying a Child Labour Monitoring System (CLMRS). It would not be surprising if the ISCO’s did not have the tools or experience that ICI already has.

The investment just in 2020 they made was quite significant. The following numbers were taken from the financial section of their annual report.

  • Innovation CHF 422,264
  • Training CHF 185,537
  • CLRMS CHF 1,982,088

ICI discloses their methodology relies on a partnership approach. In the annual report they stated:

We believe that these efforts will inspire and deliver the required 100% coverage of the supply-chain with CLMRS or comparable systems, including human rights due diligence measures, that prevent and remediate child labour and forced labour.

ICI itself aims to cover 25% of the full supply chain through direct work with partners and will use our influence to galvanize other entities and their collective efforts to cover the remaining 75% of the supply chain. We estimate that this will positively impact the lives of 1.7 million children by 2025.

The move makes sense on paper. ICI should have more experience and better infrastructure to support the specific child labour problem, and it should provide a better use of resources, both financial and time for the ISCO’s.

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