ofi sustainability officer seeks global government collective action on climate change

The chief sustainability officer for ofi cocoa, Gerry Manley has called on governments around the world to tackle climate change surrounding the Cop27 event this month in Egypt, writes Neill Barston.

In a blog post on the how industry can play its part, he outlined the vital importance of companies playing their part in delivering the best possible environmental outcomes.

As he noted, last year’s Cop26 resulted in government and multi-stakeholder promises for limiting climate change to 1.5 degrees, which he said would require a renewed collective focus to ensure targets remained on track.

Notably, he acknowledged that commercially, including within the cocoa sector, striving for such goals remainder a challenge in the face of major pressures from the energy crisis and inflation issues. However, he remained optimistic of potential progress.

He said: “The chocolate & confectionery market is growing at pace, as is consumer appetite for simple ingredients with ethical credentials. In fact, we predict another one million tons of cocoa is required in the next decade to fuel demand. This is a huge opportunity to channel growth in a healthier way for farmers, landscapes and consumers.

“To seize the opportunity, we need to help farmers grow a greater supply of good quality, sustainable cocoa without needing to cut down trees. And that means focusing on three critical areas – working with farmers, rethinking the supply chain and collaborating across borders.”

As he noted, there were several key factors that were vital for realising this goals, including primarily working with farmers, tackling a significant issue of low productivity – resulting from farmers lacking land tenure security.

He believed that it was essential that climate-friendly farming techniques should not be an additional burden to agricultural communities – with tailored support to local groups being of key importance – citing a five-year project via the  Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate).  This operated through working closely with USAID, The Rainforest Alliance and local communities, assisting farmers in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire grow forest and fruit trees within their cocoa farms, known as agroforestry.

Furthermore, he believed that value chains needed to be re-thought – in terms of tackling scope 1 & 2 emissions, as well as educating and engaging with consumers on why they should buy more sustainable confectionery and chocolate. On the latter score, he noted that ofi itself had achieved an 11% reduction in emissions per metric ton of cocoa ingredient last year in its processing facilities due to the installation of  circular biomass boilers powered by waste cocoa shells and switching to green electricity in several sites.

Crucially, his blog acknowledged that ‘no one company can act alone’ and that collaboration at scale was critical to develop the systems and regulations needed to provide true sustainability for the sector. On this, he noted that the Cocoa & Forest Initiative had provided a framework across the supply chain, but added that a more coordinated policy approach was needed by governments from consuming countries – believing that the EU’s proposed due diligence legislation could assist in delivering a level playing field.

He added that “Systemic change requires investment, innovation and partnership at every level,” noting that the Cop27 was a reminder that there was no time to lose in delivering on climate change ambitions.

 

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