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Cocoa Giants Cargill, Nestlé, Mars Join Forces to Put an End to Deforestation

Image Credit: Rainforest Alliance

Twelve of the world’s leading cocoa and chocolate companies have agreed to collectively work towards ending deforestation and forest degradation in the global cocoa supply chain, with an initial focus on Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. The agreement commits the participating companies to develop and present a joint public-private framework of action to address deforestation at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) meeting in Bonn, Germany in November 2017.

The meeting, which was hosted by HRH The Prince of Wales and organized by World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) and The Princes’ International Sustainability Unit (ISU), is the first of its kind covering the global cocoa supply chain. Senior executives from the 12 companies — including Nestlé, Cargill, Mars and The Hersey Company — stated their commitment to develop a cooperative, multi-stakeholder framework to end deforestation and forest degradation, including greater investments in more sustainable forms of landscape management; more active efforts in partnership with others to protect and restore forests in the cocoa landscape; and significant investments in programs to improve cocoa productivity for smallholder farmers working in the cocoa supply chain. Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana are the world’s leading producers of cocoa and many observers point to cocoa farming as a driving force behind rapid rates of deforestation in both countries.

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,” said HRH The Prince of Wales. “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 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.

The 12 companies will now engage in a planning and consultation process with government, farmer organizations, NGOs and other relevant stakeholders to build the joint framework to be unveiled at COP23.

“Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s leading producer of cocoa, in 2014 signed the New York Declaration on Forests, the objective of which is the elimination of deforestation caused by agriculture. 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 with deforestation,” said Marcel Yao, 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+.

Ghana's Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Hon. John Peter Amewu added, "As the second largest producer of cocoa in the world, we are excited to be part of this noble step by The Prince of Wales, World Cocoa Foundation, IDH and private sector companies to work towards reducing the rate of deforestation emanating from cocoa production. On our part, we are 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."

As farmers in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America seek new areas of land to grow crops including cocoa amid increasing global demand, WCF, IDH and ISU organized an industry commitment to end deforestation and forest degradation recognizing that deforestation is likely to increase in the future unless concerted action is taken. This commitment builds on the cocoa industry's existing initiatives in partnership with producer country governments and other stakeholders to design sustainable cocoa development programs aimed at improving the livelihoods of the millions of smallholder farmers who grow cocoa.

“Cocoa is highly susceptible to climate change, with increases in temperature and reduced rainfall putting this critical input to chocolate at risk. The pre-competitive initiative we are announcing today, in partnership with industry, governments, NGOs, farmers and other stakeholders is one of the best opportunities to achieve our goal of ending deforestation and counteracting the effects of it in the cocoa supply chain," said Michele Buck, President and CEO, The Hershey Company.


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