Exclusive: International Day of Forests event champions ‘CFI 2.0’ collaborative cocoa initiatives

Marking the UN’s International Day of Forests, key industry stakeholders in the cocoa sector staged a webinar on how businesses in the sector can play their part in positively impacting forest loss, reports Neill Barston.

Organised by the Tropical Forests Alliance, under the banner of the Jurisdictional Network, representing 1,600 representatives of civil society, donors, companies and development partners.

The online gathering explored how in light of major sector schemes such as the Cocoa and Forests Initiative, which is now being extended in what is being described as 2.0 form, are reportedly making inroads on how industry and governments can work with communities to tackle deforestation from a multi-sector perspective.

The CFI agreement- which was put in motion five years ago focused on West African nations of Ghana and Ivory Coast, was signed by a total of 25 cocoa and chocolate companies including the likes of Cargill, Barry Callebaut, Cemoi, Nestle, General Mills, Lindt, Puratos, Hershey and Olam. It has reportedly restored 9,488 ha of degraded forest and helped 4,302 farmers to register 50,344 forest trees.

In a progress report released last summer, the scheme had shown that cocoa and chocolate companies distributed 11.3 million non-cocoa trees for the development of agroforestry in the two nations and have reached a stable 72% traceability in their direct supply chains.

Significantly, other milestones were reached, namely that the Ivory Coast government had  mapped 1 million farmers with 3.2 million ha of cocoa farms. In Ghana a total of 515,762 farmers owning 845,635 farms have been registered in the national Cocoa Management System, accounting for 72 percent of the total cocoa area.

However, has previously been reported by Confectionery Production, campaign groups such as Mighty Earth have continued to express concern at the level of deforestation occurring within key cocoa markets of Ghana and Ivory Coast, which have each lost around two thirds of their forested areas over the past five decades due to cocoa farming, general land clearance, as well as a significant ongoing problem with illegal mining (known locally as galamsy), which has caused notable concern to sector observers.

Among the speakers for the online event was Ethan Budiansky, senior director of environment at the World Cocoa Foundation, who acknowledged there were indeed key challenges remaining over deforestation, but he said that taking a holistic approach, in which the wider landscape is considered rather than individual supply chains was of critical importance.

He said: “It’s been five years since the launch of the Cocoa and Forests Initiative, which includes 36 companies, IDH, as well as the governments of Ghana and Ivory Coast. It is an unprecedented collaboration, transforming the sector, driving transparency and accountability, stronger collaboration and public/private partnerships, for promoting collective action and data sharing, as well as driving best practices on the ground, addressing systemic issues relating to deforestation.

“We have made a lot of progress – the governments have adopted satellite monitoring, they are putting in place forest policies, working on national traceability, and companies have made significant investments. For example, last year they reported that investing 23 million tree seedlings for forest restoration, and are focused on traceability down to the farm level- almost a million farms, and achieving 72% traceability. Annually, working around 800,000 farmers on climate smart cocoa.”

He added that governments have committed to continued and ‘hopefully growing success’ of the CFI moving forward, noting that there had now been a renewed focus on what is being termed ‘CFI 2.0.’ This is based on scaling and accelerating impact on the ground – achieved through evolving supply chain-based investments, towards collective action on landscape approaches focused on forest conversation, landscape restoration and improved livelihoods for farmers operating within those regions.

AS he noted, the ultimate aim was establish ‘deforestation free landscapes’ that address systemic issues surrounding deforestation, which he said would be mindful of upcoming EU regulation on deforestation and standards within supply chains.

The event also heard from Mike Senior, deputy director of conservation and land use at sector body Proforest, who agreed that collaborative working was essential to the success of the CFI.

The webinar also heard from several other specialists including Cedric van Cutsem (below), senior director of Mondelez International’s Cocoa Life scheme, who offered his assessment of its engagement on the issue of deforestation.

He said: “A landscape approach for forests is important and very interesting. With Cocoa Life, we have the ambition to make the cocoa we need more sustainable. We started our programme back in 2012, and will continue until 2030, and we believe having a landscape approach, actually many landscapes, will help us to get there with this.

“The challenges we face are very complex – we can’t focus on one topic only, we need a holistic approach to them, which is what we have been implementing for the past ten years. Cocoa Life has demonstrating some success in that time, through improving processes, and empowering communities to their own development and lead to the systemic changes that are needed.”




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