Major environmental matters continue to take centre stage across the sector

With this week seeing the International Day of Forests and today marking World Water Day, it seems as if there has never been a greater level of focus placed on major environmental matters impacting the world, industry and wider society.

As far as the confectionery and cocoa sector is concerned, a key webinar the other day on the issue of tackling deforestation, led by Tropical Forest Alliance set about discussing the fact that greater collaboration across industries is urgently needed to stem the tide of an issue that isn’t getting any easier.

One of core topics to emerge was the notion of ‘Cocoa and Forests Initiative 2.0’ – which is being put forward as an extension of an original agreement struck between the governments of Ghana, Ivory Coast and major industry players ranging from Barry Callebaut, Cargill, Cemoi, Hershey and General Mills, which has taken a targeted approach to addressing one of the most lingering challenges facing the industry.

But with the two West African nations supplying the confectionery and chocolate trade having lost in the region of two thirds of their core forest areas through cocoa-related deforestation, mining, and illegal land clearance, renewing these precious resources remains an ongoing test that is set to last many years.

However, as the webinar speakers – which included Mondelez International noted, there’s now a greater sense that actions not words are what is most needed at this point, including switching the focus to ‘landscape based models’ of tackling deforestation through working with supply chains and communities outside of the industry to deliver tangible results.

This could represent a notable breakthrough, though as Confectionery Production recently reported environmental campaign group Mighty Earth’s studies have found, satellite mapping of West Africa has shown that significant levels of deforestation are still occurring, despite the best efforts of industry, civil society and engaging with communities to reverse the situation. There are also other, little discussed factors such as problems with significant amounts of illegal migration from neighbouring countries that is further impacting on the environment.

As for World Water Day, this has been designated as March 22, and has seen companies such as Cargill (see our news section this week), back schemes in West Africa that are targeting greater access to clean water resources, which sadly is still a problem that impacts around 40% of global populations, according to recent research. That such issues are still a problem in such a technology-driven age is particularly concerning, but as a continuing raft of conferences and events are highlighting – time is fast running out for meaningful action to make a difference in the fight against the major impacts of climate change.

Neill Barston, editor, Confectionery Production

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