In the wake of the climate discussions in Bonn/Germany, 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.
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.
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.