Coca-Cola is teaming up with the U.S. State Department and two other companies to use the blockchain to tackle the use of forced labour worldwide.

In a report from Reuters, nearly 25 million people work in forced labour conditions around the world, with 47 percent of them residing in the Asia-Pacific region, according to figures from the International Labour Organisation. As a result, companies find themselves under pressure to tackle the issue of forced labour in countries where they obtain sugarcane.

KnowTheChain (KTC), a partnership founded by U.S.-based Humanity United, released a study last year that showed many food and beverage firms aren’t doing enough to solve this problem. One of the top 10 companies looked at by KTC was Coca-Cola. It has reportedly said it has agreed to conduct 28 country-level studies on child labor, forced labor, and land rights for its sugar supply chains by 2020.

The popular beverage giant is also exploring the use of blockchain in a number of projects.

Brent Wilton, the company’s global head of workplace rights, said in an email to Reuters:

We are partnering with the pilot of this project to further increase transparency and efficiency of the verification process related to labor policies within our supply chain.

Blockchain Trust Accelerator (BTA), which is a non-profit organization and global platform that harnesses the blockchain to deliver social impact, is also involved in the project. The Bitfury Group, a U.S. tech company, will build the blockchain platform for this project while Emercoin will deliver distributed ledger services.

This will be the first major project for the State Department to use the blockchain on this issue. It will be providing expertise on labour protection.

Scott Busby, Deputy Assistant Secretary, said in an email to Reuters, that while blockchain cannot compel companies or those in authority to stick by the labour contracts, it does provide a chain of evidence which will encourage those to compile with the contracts.

It’s hoped that through the use of the blockchain more companies will be held accountable for their actions related to forced labour conditions. It’s hoped that this will help the millions of people worldwide who are currently living a working life they shouldn’t have to live.

Featured image from Flickr via Asta Adamonyte

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