At COP23, the largest cocoa-producing countries, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, announced far-reaching frameworks for action with leading chocolate and cocoa companies, including Cargill, General Mills, Hershey, Mars, Mondelēz International and Nestlé*,* to end deforestation and restore forest areas.
Central to the Framework of Action of the Cocoa & Forests Initiative is a commitment to halt conversion of 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.
Deforestation is a major issue in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, which together produce nearly two-thirds of the world’s supply of cocoa. Over a ten-year period, approximately 2.1 million hectares of forest area have been cleared in Côte d’Ivoire and 820,000 hectares in Ghana. One-quarter of this deforestation has been attributed to cocoa production. Sustainable cocoa production provides crucial employment and income to local communities in both countries, underpinning national social and economic development.
“The forests of Côte d’Ivoire are an essential resource for socio-economic development of our country,” said Alain Richard Donwahi, Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Water and Forests. “We support this framework for action and the vision it lays out for preserving 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 public-private actions outlined in the framework are essential for ensuring protection and restoration, as well as the long-term economic viability of over two million smallholder farmers who earn income from the crop’s production. Additionally, the actions, which are aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement, will play a crucial role in sequestering carbon stocks, 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 forest degradation. 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. The chocolate and cocoa industry also agreed to put in place verifiable monitoring systems for traceability from farm to the first purchase point for their own purchase 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.
By adopting the framework, the two governments and its private sector partners pledge to accelerate investment in long-term sustainable production of cocoa, with an emphasis on “growing more cocoa on less land.” Key actions include 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 made possible through food crop diversification, agricultural inter-cropping, development of mixed agro-forestry systems and other income generating activities.
“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 exist on the same land and previously deforested land is being rehabilitated. This approach could serve as a model for other commodities,” said Barry Parkin, Chairman of the World Cocoa Foundation.
The governments and companies, which represent more than 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 provision of alternative livelihoods and restoration of standard of living for affected communities as needed. A satellite-based monitoring system will be used to track progress on the overall deforestation target and the committed governments and companies will provide an annual report on progress and outcomes related to the specific actions in each framework.
“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.” said John Peter Amewu, Ghana’s Minister of Lands and Natural Resources. “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.”
The Cocoa & Forests Initiative was initiated by the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), the Prince of Wales’ International Sustainability Unit (ISU) and the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), in partnership with the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. The first step was the launch of an industry Statement of Intent to end deforestation and forest degradation in the cocoa supply chain at a meeting hosted in London by HRH The Prince of Wales in March 2017. The framework for action results from a process that brought together more than 500 stakeholders. The Initiative draws on lessons learned and good practices from global efforts to reduce tropical deforestation in other commodities and sectors and will continue operating to support the implementation of the action plans at the global and local level.
“We call on all actors to implement the Cocoa & Forests Initiative with urgency. In particular, we must build a clear plan to source more cocoa from less land, while ensuring cocoa from deforested land does not reach our direct or indirect supply chains,” said Hubert Weber**, Executive Vice President and President of Mondelēz Europe.** “This requires action by the private sector, as well as enforcement and social intervention by governments. We are determined to help make this initiative a success and to continue to engage our consumers in their love for chocolate made with sustainable and forest-friendly cocoa.”