Verité is proud to unveil the updated Forced Labor Commodity Atlas. This new Commodity Atlas features the following nine commodities: coffee, cocoa, cotton, fish, gold, palm oil, sugar, tea, and tobacco. As our team continues to update our commodity reports with the most up-to-date research and resources in the coming year, we will add new commodity pages for all 43 commodities from the report: Strengthening Protections Against Trafficking in Persons in Federal and Corporate Supply Chains: Research on Risk in 43 Commodities Worldwide, made possible through support provided by the U.S. Department of State.
The celebration of Earth Day this month provides the opportunity to reflect on the overlap between labor rights and the environment. Verité has found a strong correlation between labor abuses and environmental damages. Often, activities that violate environmental regulations take place in areas where the government lacks the capacity to adequately enforce the law. Verité’s research into palm oil and illegal gold mining, for example, has found that the absence of the rule of law at remote worksites can result in permanent ecosystem damage, dangerous working conditions, and risk of forced labor.
Verité has written in this space previously regarding our in-depth research on the risk of human and labor rights abuses in the production of palm oil in Guatemala, with the generous support of Humanity United, which also funded this research in Ecuador.
We accomplished a lot this year. If you appreciate our work, please support us by clicking HERE. Selected 2015 highlights include: At a meeting convened by Secretary of State Kerry at the White House in January, we released a report highlighting the riskiest sectors at the intersection of Trafficking in Persons and government procurement. In June,The Atlantic reportedon our work with Patagonia to address forced labor in apparel production in Taiwan. In November, Nestle released the results of an assessment of its fish supply chain including our findings of high risk practices on fishing boats, processing plants and shrimp farms, as well as the company’s action plan to address these vulnerabilities.
Palm oil has been in the news a lot lately, but the news hasn’t been good. From forest fires across Indonesia used to make way for new plantations to human and labor rights abuses, media scrutiny has uncovered the often troubling conditions associated with this almost ubiquitous oil. It has also uncovered worrying weaknesses in the voluntary mechanisms set up to promote palm oil sustainability. Add this to existing regulatory and enforcement gaps in countries where palm oil is often produced, and it is clear that these are troubling times for workers across the industry. But the news isn’t all bleak.