German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa joins with key groups to support African farmers

Three key groups including the German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa (GISCO), Swiss Platform for Sustainable Cocoa (SWISSCO) and the Belgian platform Beyond Chocolate have united to deliver on supporting key communities in the cocoa supply chain.

The organisations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, with the combined initiatives bringing together a large part of the national cocoa and chocolate industry, retailers, civil society organisations, research institutions and representatives of the respective national government.

As the combined group noted, by cooperating, the platforms want to accelerate efforts to combat the key issues in the cocoa industry. These include the eradication of the worst forms of child labor, achieving a living income for the cocoa farmers and their families, improving the transparency and traceability in the cocoa supply chain and stopping the deforestation linked to cocoa production.

The three countries account for about 19 percent of the global cocoa imports, mainly sourced from West Africa, and 11 percent of the global cocoa consumption . In January 2018, the German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa and the Swiss Platform already signed an MoU.

The current agreement also includes the multi-stakeholder initiative Beyond Chocolate, which has been established in Belgium in December 2018. One of the agreement’s cornerstones is the harmonised monitoring system. The three platforms have agreed on common indicators to monitor and report on the four main challenges in the cocoa sector: child labour, poverty of farmers, cocoa traceability, and deforestation.

Wolf Kropp-Büttner, chairman of the board of the German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa, said: “The three cocoa platforms together build the basis of a coordinated European approach towards a sustainable cocoa value chain. We have all important actors on board, we are in active dialogue with policy level, and – even when on a lower level – as well with the producing countries. To monitor impact and make results available in a transparent way allows learnings and improvement.”

Furthermore, Ernst A. Brugger, president of the Swiss Platform for Sustainable Cocoa, added that  ‘another level of strength’ had been reached in promoting sustainability in the cocoa sector. He believed that such collaborations in Europe would have major positive benefits for those producing nations in Africa.

Philippe de Selliers, chairman of the steering committee of Beyond Chocolate, added: “The three European consuming country platforms will now continue to work together, exchange knowledge and learn from each other. This will help us accelerate the joint efforts that benefit all farming households involved.”

The next concrete step is the further development of the common monitoring system. For this, the three initiatives already developed common key performance indicators for the strategic challenges. A priority topic is also the due diligence of human rights in the cocoa supply chain. The three European initiatives will discuss strategies and impacting measures in a workshop and will bring these up on an international level. Furthermore, the platforms will organize several joint learning events and activities on issues related to a sustainable cocoa value chain.

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