Webinar: Child and forced labour risks spike as pandemic upends soft commodity demand

Human Rights Outlook 2020


The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the demand of key soft commodities deepening already existent labour risks across supply chains in the Americas and sub-Saharan Africa. As the pandemic continues to unfold, we expect COVID-19 to create gaps in standard human rights due diligence, as commodity supply chains experience reduced oversight and protections for smallholders. To showcase both sides of this phenomenon, we will present two case studies that reflect the contrasting human rights risks in soft commodity supply chains:

  1. The increased exposure to forced and child labour risks due to the unprecedented demand for sugarcane, one of the main inputs used to produced ethanol for hand sanitizer. While these risks are high in most major producing countries, Verisk Maplecroft data reveals Brazil as the foremost threat to human rights-conscious sugarcane.
  2. Rising child labour risks due to COVID-19 restrictions and plummeting market prices in Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria as living income targets evaporate due to lower market demand. African tea, coffee and cocoa smallholders are increasingly tempted to engage in child labour due to border restrictions, reduced income and school closures.

Through the webinar you’ll learn about:

  • The regional soft commodity producers that require the most attention from a human rights perspective as laid out by our Commodity Risk Dashboard
  • A more granular understanding of risk hotspots for key commodities, as estimated by Verisk Maplecroft’s subnational human rights indices
  • Probabilistic forecasts around the threat of total or partial bans on key soft commodity producers from the US and EU


  • Victoria Gama, Senior Human Rights Analyst
  • Ryan Aherin, Senior Commodities Analyst
  • Eric Humphery-Smith, Analyst, Africa
  • David Irwin-Ransom, Senior Marketing Specialist