Fairtrade launches new map to identify human rights and environmental risks in cocoa and other commodities

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

A Fairtrade cocoa farmer in Ghana. Pic: Fairtrade
A Fairtrade cocoa farmer in Ghana. Pic: Fairtrade

Related tags Fairtrade Cocoa Chocolate Sustainability

In a statement, Fairtrade said: ‘Risk assessment and collaboration with farmers and workers are cornerstones of sustainable supply chains and essential for evolving due diligence requirements’.

The risk map​ covers cocoa, as well as coffee, bananas, wine grapes and honey, along with the most common countries of origin of these products. More products will be added in the coming months, Fairtrade said.

According to the organisation, child labour – a particular problem in some parts of the cocoa sector - is increasing and human rights violations and environmental harm are widespread in global supply chains. One in five workers globally lives in poverty, and agricultural production is responsible for 70% of freshwater withdrawals across the world.

Fairtrade Ghana risk map snapshot
A snapshot of Fairtrade' risk map of Ghana

The catalogued risks are relevant for the products and their associated growing regions for any supply chains, not only for Fairtrade, so that anyone - from farmers and worker organisations to brands to NGOs - can hone in on salient risks to communities and in supply chains. This comes as companies face growing legal obligations to carry out such risk assessments and to prevent, mitigate and remediate the greatest risks in their supply chains. 

Marike de Peña, President of the Fairtrade Producer Network for Latin America and the Caribbean CLAC said: “The risk map can facilitate a transparent dialogue between supply chain actors and help companies in building effective responses to address the greatest risks, avoiding further harm to farming communities and the planet​.”

Impact assessment

A product of Fairtrade’s ongoing risk and impact assessment work, the map adds value by incorporating rightsholders’ input collected through dialogue and participatory processes: Fairtrade  said it spent several months working with farmer cooperatives, workers and plantation management, Fairtrade staff from six continents, and external experts to develop the map.

The website also includes detailed information on specific risk issues identified in the covered commodities, such as child labour, gender rights and living income, as well as environmental risks related to climate change, water, and biodiversity.

Based on the first step of a typical human rights and environmental due diligence process, which is to identify risks in a supply chain, the map catalogues the most common risks and also demonstrates how they are inseparable from their root causes, such as poverty, inequality, and exploitation. Fairtrade said it can support companies in each step of implementing their due diligence responsibilities, and particularly in the identification, prevention and mitigation of harms and risks.

Fairtrade has been a pioneer in advancing human rights in business for more than 30 years​,” said Fairtrade’s Business and Human Rights Director Tytti Nahi. “Due diligence must not be just about internal processes and requirements to business partners, it needs to be about dialogue, collaboration and changing one’s own practices, to improve people’s lives and protect the environment​.”

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