Cocoa-certifying organization UTZ has intensified its partnership with the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), an organization focused on protecting children in cocoa-growing communities.
UTZ is the first organization to join the ICI’s newly formed Non-Profit Contributing Partner category. The agreement confirms the organizations’ intention to continue collaborating on increasing child protection in the cocoa supply chain, ICI Executive Director Nick Weatherill said. 
“We believe this partnership represents a new way for ICI to partner with a wider circle of stakeholders, which will be both innovative and impactful.” he said. “That’s especially so given the intended merger between UTZ and the Rainforest Alliance, offering even greater prospects to improve the lives of even more cocoa farmers and their families.”
Established in 2002, ICI works with the cocoa industry, civil society, farmers’ organizations, communities and national governments in cocoa-producing countries to ensure a better future for children and contribute to the elimination of child labor. Operating in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana since 2007, ICI has promoted holistic child protection measures in more than 600 cocoa-growing communities benefiting more than 1 million people, 682,500 of whom are children.
ICI and UTZ have been working together since 2013, ensuring that the UTZ certification approach supports and verifies emerging good practices for tackling child labor, particularly through the revision of the UTZ Code of Conduct to include child labor monitoring and remediation. ICI’s innovative Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS) has served as a reference for a new set of responsible business practices that the UTZ standard aims to promote.  
Under this new partnership, the groups will examine how UTZ’s enhanced model can be scaled up, enabling certification to aid the expansion of good practices in child protection and child labor reduction. 
“We are proud to be the first Non-Profit Contributing Partner of ICI,” says UTZ Executive Director Han de Groot. “This will not only strengthen the relationship between our two organizations but also contribute to having an even bigger impact on farming communities and children in particular.”