Tackling child labor risks is a critical part of a just transition to a fairer and more sustainable food system.
We are driven by the fundamental principle that all children deserve the chance to learn and grow in a safe and healthy environment, without having to undertake work that is dangerous in any way or that interferes with education. Our work here focuses on risks within cocoa-farming communities.
In January 2022, we announced a new plan to tackle child labor risks in cocoa production. At the center is an innovative income accelerator program, which aims to improve the livelihoods of cocoa-farming families, while also advancing regenerative agriculture practices and gender equality.
Protecting children and increasing access to education
Setting standards across our supply chains
Nestlé was the first company to develop a system to assess and address the risks of child labor, which we do principally by providing better access to education. The Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System identifies at-risk children within impoverished cocoa and hazelnut farming communities and monitors their well-being over time. Community liaisons – all of whom come from the local communities themselves – identify practical ways we can help. For instance, we build and renovate schools and have partnered with the Jacobs Foundation to provide special classes that help children catch up on missed schooling. We also help parents secure birth certificates to register their children at school.
Addressing causes of rural poverty
Nestlé uses its resources and influence to tackle the root causes of rural poverty as a further means of tackling child labor. We do this by supporting living incomes, empowering women and encouraging farmers to diversify and create additional income streams, for example by cultivating other crops. These moves help to improve livelihoods and ensure farmers and their families don’t feel the need to send their children to work to shore up household income.
Nestle’s monitoring and remediation systems are helping to address child labor risks
Nestle has hundreds of community liaisons who regularly meet tens of thousands of families within cocoa-growing communities. Our liaisons – who all come from cocoa-growing communities themselves – understand the issues farmers and their families face. They counsel families on the dangers of child labor and monitor children through repeat visits, observing activity in communities and visiting farms. They also advise Nestlé on what measures are best suited to their community or to alleviate rural poverty and increase access to education.
Investing in strategic partnerships
Given the scale and complexity of human rights challenges around the world, including child labor, we cannot fix these problems alone. Nestlé has invested in relationships with various organizations to share learnings, cultivate common approaches and create positive impact at scale. Organizations we work with on child labor include the Fair Labor Association and The International Labor Organization’s Child Labor Platform.
Catching up on missed classes
We know that there is a direct correlation between better education and lower levels of child labor risk, so Nestlé prioritizes access to school as the core way we can end child labor. We have partnered with the Jacobs Foundation to create over a hundred ‘bridging’ classes that help children who have missed school due to work. These special classes deliver two years’ worth of the national curriculum in small classes in just nine months.