Under the new agreement signed at the event organized by World Cocoa Foundation, IDH-the Sustainable Trade Initiative and International Sustainability Unit, senior executives at 12 global leading cocoa and chocolate companies committed to develop framework to address the issue of deforestation and forest degradation in the cocoa supply chain.
The meeting brought together a cross-section of the world's largest chocolate makers and cocoa buyers, producers and traders, including Barry Callebaut; Blommer Chocolate Company; Cargill; CEMOI; ECOM; Ferrero; The Hershey Company; Mars, Incorporated; Mondelēz International; Nestlé; Olam and Touton. Also present were ministers and senior government representatives of the two-leading cocoa producing countries – Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana – as well as France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom. Senior representatives of the Agence Française de Développement, Greenpeace, International Finance Corporation, Oxfam, Tropical Forests Alliance 2020, World Bank, World Resources Institute, and UN Environment, as well as other organizations, were also present at the event.
The companies agreed to increase investments in more sustainable forms of landscape management and partner actively with others to protect and restore forests in the cocoa landscape. New programs to improve cocoa productivity for smallholder farmers working in the cocoa supply chain will be developed too.
The Prince of Wales, who hosted the event, mentioned in his speech, "Tropical rainforests play an absolutely crucial role in climate change mitigation and adaptation, in ensuring sustainable livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people and in conserving biodiversity. The most powerful direct reason for action is that deforestation threatens to undermine the very resilience of the cocoa sector itself, and with it the livelihoods of the millions of smallholders who depend on it. I am heartened that companies are undertaking to work up, in full collaboration with host governments and civil society, a Joint Framework of Action to make good on the commitments announced today, in time for COP 23 in November."
The joint partnership between companies will initially focus on Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana – two world’s leading producers of cocoa. According to many observers, cocoa farming highly contributes to rapid rates of deforestation in both countries.
Marcel Yao, from Côte d'Ivoire's Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Coordinator of the National Climate Change Program and National Executive Secretary for CN-REDD+, said, “In respecting this commitment as it concerns the production of cocoa, we intend, with the support of the private sector, to undertake efforts to preserve our forests by improving productivity on existing cocoa lands and developing agroforestry approaches to sustainable cocoa production without deforestation. It is with great pride that we join with The Prince of Wales, World Cocoa Foundation, IDH and their partners in demonstrating this willingness to conserve, restore and manage forests for the benefit of all Ivorians.”
Minister of Lands and Natural Resources of Ghana Hon. John Peter Amewu underscored that Ghana, as the second largest producer of coca in the world, is poised to enhance “the environmental governance regime in the cocoa sector and implement actions that will enable cocoa producers to adopt cocoa agroforestry systems and practices that are climate smart."
Twelve companies in collaboration with governments and other stakeholders, including farmer organizations and NGOs, will utilize the cocoa industry’s existing initiatives as the foundation upon which sustainable cocoa development programs aimed at improving the livelihoods of smallholder cocoa farmers will be designed.
Executive Director at UNEP Erik Solheim commented, "UN Environment is delighted that cocoa joins the big four -- soy, palm, beef and timber -- in the development of green business practices and forest friendly agriculture. The private sector is pivotal to making the Paris Agreement a success. UN Environment is happy to support this cocoa coalition in formulating a concrete set of actions to be presented later this year in Bonn, and for helping carry the essential message -- that going green is also great for business."
Andrew Steer, President and Chief Executive Officer at World Resources Institute, added, "This is a critical time to reduce deforestation from agricultural commodity supply chains, and this agreement places the cocoa industry among the leading global commodity sectors tackling forest impacts.”
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By Natalie Myhalnytska
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