Identify the challenges, engage with others and measure progress. Those are the words we began our 2019 Tackling Child Labor report with and are as relevant for our work on addressing deforestation and forest degradation in cocoa.
Cocoa grown illegally in protected areas has no place in our supply chains. We are continuing our efforts to stop deforestation and the destruction of other natural habitats within our agricultural commodity supply chains, including those where cocoa is grown and harvested.
Addressing deforestation in cocoa supply chains is complex and requires a concerted approach. That’s why we joined the Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI) when it launched in 2017. CFI brings together all the relevant stakeholders – cocoa and chocolate industry, governments of producing countries, cooperatives, farmers and rural communities – who need to come together to solve this multifaceted issue.
Cocoa is mainly a smallholder crop in West Africa. Consequently, any solution to tackle deforestation needs to take into account farmers’ livelihoods – effectively providing farmers with viable alternatives to grow the same amount of, or even more, cocoa on less land. As we forge ahead with our efforts to embed sustainability in the cocoa sector, we are aware that we need to balance out the need to protect the environment with the need to provide cocoa farming communities with opportunities for social and economic development.
Since publishing our Action Plan in March 2019, we have recorded good progress across all the main objectives we had set out to achieve. We have made good headway in mapping all the farms that we source from, a critical step in ensuring the cocoa we buy doesn’t originate from protected areas. We have scaled up the distribution of shade trees for planting on cocoa farms: this helps protect cocoa plants to cope with drier, hotter conditions, making cocoa farms more climate-resilient. We are also continuing our efforts to improve livelihoods in cocoa farming communities, through training on Good Agricultural Practices, income diversification activities and the creation of Village Savings and Loans Associations to improve financial inclusion of rural communities. Finally, we are engaging with communities on the topic of forest protection through awareness-raising activities, and through the financing and distribution of more efficient, less polluting cookstoves.
Addressing deforestation and forest degradation is not our only focus. We are also working on transforming our supply chains – making them more climate-friendly and resilient – to help us achieve our 2050 net-zero pledge. As part of this work, we are deploying nature-based solutions, like reforestation, to absorb more carbon, improve soil health and enhance biodiversity. We will continue to work with the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, our partners and other stakeholders to help protect and restore protected forests and promote sustainable cocoa and thriving communities.