World Cocoa Foundation set to address key industry sustainability issues

The latest World Cocoa Foundation partnership meeting is planning to address a host of key issues facing the sector including child labour, delivering a living wage, and a pressing need for due diligence legislation, writes Neill Barston.

Taking place online between November 17-19, the annual sector event will include an opening address from the organisation’s new president, Martin Short, who will offer his initial reflections on the state of then industry under the banner of ‘overcoming challenges together.’

Speaking recently on his appointment, he acknowledged that there remained a considerable amount of work to be done in tackling the core environmental and social issues linked to the industry, but was enthused at taking up the reins of the organisation from outgoing postholder Rick Scobey.

“WCF plays a critical role in the convening of governments, companies, civil society and cocoa-growing communities around collective action and a shared vision. I therefore look forward to leading it to achieve its objective of a thriving and sustainable cocoa sector, where farmers prosper, communities are empowered, and the planet is healthy,” explained Short on joining the organisation, which has traditionally held its partnership meetings as physical events, which last year transferred online amid the pandemic (the 2020 event pictured, main image).

As previously reported by Confectionery Production, the WCF has continued its mission to champion the future viability and sustainability of the cocoa industry for over 20 years, with its membership including major cocoa and confectionery companies, civil society, processors and supply chain managers.

The opening day of the event include a key contribution from the Alex Assanvo, executive secretary of the Ghana and Ivory Coast Cocoa Initiative.

He has recently been appointed to his post in Accra, Ghana, from Mars Wrigley in Europe, to help deliver the newly established Living Income Differential programme (LID), created to offer a vital financial boost to farming communities.

Assanvo will be joined in the session by Christine McGrath, WCF vice chair and chief wellbeing, sustainability, public and government affairs officer for Mondelez, and Michel Arrion, the executive director of the International Cocoa Organisation, to offer their views on how to deliver key changes to the cocoa sector, as it faces critical challenges.

In addition to the urgent need to improve living standards for farmers in terms of their payment, the industry has also been impacted by the ongoing covid crisis, and fluctuation in cocoa commodity prices that have had knock-on effects upon core issues of child labour, levels of deforestation and the long-term sustainability of the industry.

The second day of the meeting is set to address other major issues including European due diligence within supply chains, traceability and the impact of the COP26 climate summit held over the past two weeks in Glasgow, Scotland.

For more information on joining the meeting, visit the World Cocoa Foundations website.

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