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Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana have announced far-reaching frameworks for action with chocolate and cocoa companies to end deforestation and restore forest areas.

Central to the frameworks, which were announced at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP23), 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.

In a joint statement, the governments of the countries and chocolate and cocoa companies said the action represented “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,” they said.

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. The chocolate and cocoa industry agreed 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 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 accelerated through food crop diversification, agricultural inter-cropping, development of mixed agro-forestry systems, and other income generating activities designed to boost and diversify household income while protecting forests.

The governments and companies, which represent and estimated 80+ per cent of global cocoa usage, will 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 of affected communities as needed.

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; Godiva Chocolatier; 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 JH Whittaker & Sons Ltd. Other companies are soon expected to announce their commitment to the frameworks.

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