Nestlé, Hershey and Mars are among 12 of the world’s biggest cocoa companies to have agreed to act on deforestation in their supply chains.
At an event in London hosted by Prince Charles the firms signed a statement of collective intent to cooperate on the issue. The initial focus will be on Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, which together produce almost half the world’s cocoa.
Cocoa production is one of the main commodities that drives deforestation, alongside palm oil, soybeans, timber and beef.
The meeting was the first of its kind to cover the global cocoa supply chain, its organisers said.
The firms committed to a number of measures including greater investment in sustainable land management, partnership efforts to restore forests in cocoa growing areas, and investment to improve the productivity of smallholder farmers in the cocoa supply chain.
Other companies attending the meeting included Barry Callebaut, Blommer Chocolate Company, Cargill, CEMOI, ECOM; Ferrero, Mondelēz International, Olam and Touton. The 12 signatories are now building a framework in consultation with governments, farmers and other stakeholders and will unveiled it at the UN climate change summit COP 23 in Bonn, Germany, this November.
Prince Charles said the private sector had a “critically important” role in protecting rainforest, and said deforestation had “too often been associated with global commodity supply chains”.
“The most powerful direct reason for action is that deforestation threatens to undermine the very resilience of the cocoa sector itself, and with it the livelihoods of the millions of smallholders who depend on it, due to the increased climate variability that follows forest loss,” he said.
The meeting was set up by the Prince’s International Sustainability Unit, World Cocoa Foundation and the Sustainable Trade Initiative.
In the statement, the companies agreed to work with public, private and civil society stakeholders to:
- develop a joint framework to end deforestation in the sector
- align company action plans with this framework by 2018
- promote improved practices through supply chain relationships
- professionalise and economically empower farmers and their families with a focus on gender equality
- share data and research on forest loss and degradation and patterns of land use
- improve land use policy and planning, forest protection and land restoration
- improve financing opportunities for sustainable development in the sector
- extend the initiative to other cocoa-growing countries
Cargill, one of the firms that attended the meeting, published its first report on forests earlier this year, identifying cocoa as one of its priority supply chains. Mondelēz was criticised last year when it announced Cadbury’s would no longer buy Fairtrade cocoa.
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