Deforestation policies offer steps in the right direction

This week it has emerged that the International Cocoa Council has supported moves by the EU to develop a framework of policies aimed at increasing the rate of tackling deforestation.

While such measures are to be welcomed, the fact this comes so soon after the announcement of an industry-wide scheme known as the Cocoa and Forests initiative supported by leading confectionery businesses will potentially leave observers wondering how such policies will potentially integrate.

This also comes on top of a number of individual sustainability plans from companies as wide ranging as Mars Wrigley and Ferrero, to Olam Cocoa, about how to tackle major issues of gaining sufficient industry supplies without damaging forest resources.

It’s an ongoing industry-wide problem that undoubtedly needs addressing, though it is hard to see clear answers emerging in terms of solving major social and economic issues facing many of the key industry supplying nations in Africa. Their collective need is undeniably great in terms of increasing and diversifying agricultural production to improve the lives of farming communities, which does not easily tally with enforcing codes of environmental protection.

From having written widely on the issue of sustainability over the past few years, it’s something that is understandably rightly dominating agendas at international government level.

But unless at some point, combined strategies are honed down to tangible targets for action on a rapid scale, then it’s hard to see how real change will be implemented.

There has clearly been genuine progress made on wider sustainability of sourcing by major companies including Mars Wrigley, Mondelez, and Barry Callebaut (which this week confirmed that it had now reached a total of a third of its cocoa supplies, which the company aims to increase even further over the coming years), that offers some real hope for change within the industry as a whole.

But major linked issues such as significantly reducing deforestation are matters which require equally urgent action beyond mere policy pledges from the developed world.


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