Two-thirds of global cocoa supply agree on actions to eliminate deforestation

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16 Nov 2017 --- At the UN Climate Change Conference (COP23), top cocoa-producing countries Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana announced far-reaching Frameworks for Action with leading chocolate and cocoa companies to end deforestation and restore forest areas.

Central to the Frameworks is a commitment to no further conversion of any forest land for cocoa production. The companies and governments pledged to eliminate illegal cocoa production in national parks, in line with stronger enforcement of national forest policies and development of alternative livelihoods for affected farmers. The two countries produce nearly two-thirds of the world’s annual supply of cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate and a range of other consumer products.

The set of public-private actions announced represent unprecedented commitments on forest protection and restoration, and sustainable cocoa production and farmer livelihoods. These combined actions, which are aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement, will play a crucial role in sequestering carbon stocks and thereby addressing global and local climate change.

Both countries announced plans to introduce a differentiated approach for improved management of forest reserves, based on the level of degradation of the forests. Up-to-date maps on forest cover and land-use, as well as socio-economic data on cocoa farmers and their communities will be developed and publicly shared by the governments.

Chocolate and cocoa industry agree to put in place verifiable monitoring systems for traceability from farm to the first purchase point for their own purchases of cocoa and will work with the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to ensure an effective national framework for traceability for all traders in the supply chain.  

The two governments and companies agree through the Frameworks to accelerate investment in the long-term sustainable production of cocoa, with an emphasis on “growing more cocoa on less land.” Key actions include the provision of improved planting materials, training in good agricultural practices, and development and capacity-building of farmers’ organizations. 

Sustainable livelihoods and income diversification for cocoa farmers will be accelerated through food crop diversification, agricultural inter-cropping, development of mixed agroforestry systems, and other income generating activities designed to boost and diversify household income while protecting forests.

The governments and companies, which represent an estimated 80+ percent of global cocoa usage, commit to full and effective consultation and participation of cocoa farmers in the process, and promotion of community-based management models for forest protection and restoration. The governments will assess and mitigate the social impacts and risks of any proposed land-use changes on affected communities, and ensure the provision of alternative livelihoods and restoration of the standard of living of affected communities as needed.  

The governments and companies have committed to a comprehensive monitoring process, including a satellite-based monitoring system to track progress on the overall deforestation target, an annual publicly disclosed reporting on progress and outcomes related to the specific actions in each Framework.

Speaking at the event, Côte d’Ivoire Minister of Water and Forests Alain Richard Donwahi says: “The forests of Côte d’Ivoire are an essential resource for the socio-economic development of our country. We support this Framework for Action and the vision it lays out for preserving and restoring our forests, including the national parks. We are pleased that the Framework is aligned with our National Policy of Preservation and Rehabilitation of Forests and the REDD+ strategy to secure our natural resources and help us to implement it.”

“The Government of Ghana is committed to upholding the actions agreed in this framework and will do our part to ensure the Framework’s success,” says Ghana Minister of Lands and Natural Resources John Peter Amewu, “This includes enhancing environmental governance and supportive measures that enable cocoa farmers to adopt cocoa agroforestry practices that are climate-smart and well integrated with our REDD+ strategies.”

World Cocoa Foundation Chairman Barry Parkin says: “These comprehensive Frameworks for Action are important landmarks as they spell out a series of steps by both governments and industry to stop deforestation in cocoa-growing areas. In making good on these commitments, the public and private sectors will be partnering on actions that result in cocoa becoming a serious agroforestry crop, where different trees and crops co-exist on the same land and previously deforested land is being rehabilitated. This approach could serve as a model for other commodities.”

Companies that have thus far committed to the Frameworks are Barry Callebaut; Blommer Chocolate Company; Cargill Cocoa and Chocolate; CEMOI; Cococo Chocolatiers; ECOM Group; Ferrero; General Mills, Inc.; Godiva Chocolatier, Inc.; Guittard Chocolate Company; The Hershey Company; Mars Wrigley Confectionary; Meiji Co., Ltd.; Mondelez International; Nestlé; Olam Cocoa; Sainsbury’s; Toms Group; Touton; Tree Global; and J.H. Whittaker & Sons Ltd.

Additional companies are soon expected to announce their commitment to the Frameworks. 

Barry Callebaut signs unique deforestation-free cocoa commitment 
In the wake of the climate discussions in Bonn, the leading cocoa and chocolate companies signed together with the Ivorian and Ghanaian governments the Frameworks for Action of the Cocoa and Forest Initiative on 16 November. 

The goal of these frameworks? To eradicate deforestation from the cocoa supply chain in West-Africa. We were one of the leading companies driving the final agreement of the framework. The frameworks for action are truly unique, as there is no other commodity for which governments, industry and NGOs have come together to agree on concrete measures to eradicate deforestation. Pablo Perversi, Barry Callebaut’s Chief Innovation and Quality Officer, joined the signing of Framework Agreements. See also our previous story on this initiative.

Solving an environmental and a social issue
The frameworks include an end to the conversion of any forest land for cocoa production, a moratorium on the direct sourcing of cocoa from national parks and reserves per 1 January 2018 and the development of an action plan by signatory companies and governments to eliminate cocoa production and sourcing from National Parks and Reserves. In addition, the framework also foresees in the development of alternative livelihoods for affected farmers. Many cocoa farmers have been farming for years in the forests, so alternative livelihoods have to be found for this group of farmers. Deforestation is as much a social problem in West-Africa, as it is an environmental problem.

These are all big commitments that can only be successfully implemented by involving all relevant stakeholders.  

What is driving deforestation in cocoa?
Cocoa production related deforestation in West-Africa is caused by a combination of cocoa farmer poverty, climate and pollution-induced low yields and challenges in enforcing forest protection laws. In order to define a structural solution to deforestation in the cocoa supply chain, and to achieve our Forever Chocolate target to become forest positive, many actors have to work together. This is the required movement we are always referring to when talking about Forever Chocolate. That is exactly the purpose of the Cocoa and Forest Initiative that brought together the cocoa and chocolate industry, the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative and the Prince of Wales’ International Sustainability Unit, as well as the Ivorian and Ghanaian government.  

Climate-smart agriculture
In the long run, supporting cocoa farmers to increase their productivity on existing farmland will be the solution to eradicating deforestation from the cocoa supply chain. That is also why both frameworks foresee for additional investment in climate-smart agriculture, in essence producing more cocoa on less land.

Next steps
In the coming months, more detailed plans for the implementation of the Frameworks for Action have to be worked out and companies will have to draft their plans for action. Overall, these Frameworks are a big step forward to eradicating deforestation from the cocoa supply chain.

Barry Callebaut

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With annual sales of about CHF 6.7 billion (EUR 6.1 billion / USD 6.8 billion) in fiscal year 2015/16, the Zurich-based Barry Callebaut Group is the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products – from sourcing and processing cocoa beans to producing the finest chocolates, including chocolate fillings, decorations and compounds. The Group runs more than 50 production facilities worldwide and employs a diverse and dedicated global workforce of close to 10,000 people. The Barry Callebaut Group serves the entire food industry, from industrial food manufacturers to artisanal and professional users of chocolate, such as chocolatiers, pastry chefs, bakers, hotels, restaurants or caterers. The two global brands catering to the specific needs of these Gourmet customers are Callebaut® and Cacao Barry®. The Barry Callebaut Group is committed to make sustainable chocolate the norm by 2025 to help ensure future supplies of cocoa and improve farmer livelihoods. It supports the Cocoa Horizons Foundation in its goal to shape a sustainable cocoa and chocolate future.

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