Ending Child Labor in Coconut Supply Chain
With regard to vegetable oils from (sub)tropical areas, both for the palm oil and soya supply chain, child labor issues are known and addressed under several initiatives. For the coconut (oil) supply chain, where no global sustainability and standard-setting platform exists, this is not the case yet. For this reason ICCO has, together with other partners, started a project to raise the bar on children’s rights protection in the coconut oil supply chain in the Philippines.
The new project is initiated by MVO – the Netherlands Oils and Fats Organisation, VERNOF (in particular Cargill and Wilmar), ICCO, Global March against Child Labor, and Verité. The project is funded by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency’s ‘Fund Against Child Labor’ and consists of two phases. In the first phase a local impact assessment will be made. This will serve as a base for the second phase which will focus on how to address issues found, and how to set up a proper due diligence system by the participating companies.
Millions of smallholder farmers are engaged in coconut cultivation in the Philippines. They often live in remote areas in poverty and without access to education. As a result, it is possible that children may do unpaid family work in the process from land preparation to harvesting, young workers (15-17 years old) may be found in processing facilities working in hazardous conditions.
The first phase of the project is meant to reveal the prevalence and root causes of child labor in these coconut supply chains, as well as the macro and micro risks that contribute to the vulnerability of workers, and pose barriers to policy implementation. Together with local experts, potentially vulnerable groups are identified and the frequency of child labor will be studied. Root causes of child labor are identified and the link between the participating companies and child labor will be determined. Finally, this has to move into the second phase where the focus will be on finding appropriate measures to prevent child labor.
Due diligence legislation
The project will raise the bar on children’s rights protection in the coconut oil supply chain from the island of Mindanao and some provinces in the Visayas, which can serve as an example for coconut oil chains from other regions. By developing child labor due diligence systems at sector level in the Netherlands, the involved Dutch companies are working in line with the need to perform proper due diligence and the discussions around this within the EU.
Funds Against Child Labor
The Funds Against Child Labor is a Dutch fund set up for companies (and stakeholders) that actively want to end child labor in their supply chain. Subsidy money is available for activities that are focussing on ending child labor. A project should consist of a partnership between companies and (local) NGOs and all activities should be performed in a four-year period. All supported projects can be found here.