It is encouraging that this year’s COP21 climate talks reached a global agreement to curb climate change. This is an important step towards a more secure future. But it’s only the first step and the hard work of implementing the agreement must now begin.
At COP21, I was proud to represent Mondelēz International on a panel: “Focus on Forests,” along with the Ivorian Minister for the Environment, where we announced a new partnership to tackle climate change by addressing deforestation in cocoa origins. Here’s an overview of how we are addressing the problem of deforestation in Cocoa Life:
During the “Focus on Forests” panel, I was proud to announce Mondelēz International’s commitment to lead private-sector action for Côte d'Ivoire’s national program to combat deforestation, which is part of the international REDD+ framework (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation).
It’s a bold ambition to reach zero-net deforestation in cocoa, but it’s doable. Partnering with the Ivorian government, with the support of the World Bank Forest Investment Program, allows Mondelēz International to have a greater impact and to protect forests more effectively than any one actor could on its own.
Collaborating with the NGO Salva Terra, Cocoa Life will support forest mapping and monitoring. We’ll also train farmers to increase productivity by adopting fertilizer and plant protection products as well as agroforestry practices, so they can increase their income without expanding into the forest.
I called for the private sector to step up and embrace the opportunity to work with governments in forested countries to produce raw materials in a way that tackles rural poverty while reducing emissions from deforestation.
Here are some reports of progress in other countries:
Ghana’s cocoa landscape has changed dramatically in recent decades. Some areas within the cocoa belt in Ghana that were once occupied with high moisture forest have been extensively deforested, resulting in the gradual intrusion of grassland and more frequent droughts.
Mondelēz International’s Cocoa Life program has partnered with the United National Development Programme (UNDP) to address this problem. Together, we are encouraging farmers to adopt environmentally sustainable production practices in the cocoa sector. Already we’ve seen cocoa farmers in the Cocoa Life operational areas gradually moving away from their old farming methods, which placed no value on environmental sustainability, and embracing greener production practices.
Through the partnership, farmers receive support from UNDP to either replant destroyed trees or introduce new shade trees, which promotes biodiversity, improves conditions on cocoa fields, and makes them more resilient to the risk of pests and disease.
Since 2014, the project has distributed over 787,000 shade tree seedlings to nearly 10,000 cocoa farmers. It is gratifying to report that seedling planting and survival rates are in the region of 90% and 95% respectively.
“Mondelez has been an important partner of the UNDP Green Commodities Programme since its very beginnings in 2009,” says Andrew Bovarnick, Global Head of the Green Commodities Programme. “Together we are working on addressing the root causes of sustainability in key commodities. For example in Ghana, in the cocoa sector we have been working on applying the CREMA approach (community resource management area mechanism) a community-based approach to biodiversity conservation and forest protection, as well as tree planting on cocoa farms. In Indonesia, Mondelēz and UNDP recently joined forces to host a workshop where key stakeholders were gathered for a dialogue about sustainability in Indonesia’s cocoa industry. This type of work at the sector level is critical to mainstreaming sustainability in agricultural commodities supply chains worldwide.”
Our successes in Africa are beginning to be replicated in Indonesia, which is the third-largest cocoa-producing country in the world and the biggest in Asia. In November, Cocoa Life sponsored a two-day workshop on the environmental challenges of sustainable cocoa development in Indonesia, which was attended by 70 people from 45 different organizations.
By bringing together government officials, university professors and researchers, UNDP and representatives from local and international NGOs (including Swisscontact, and the World Agroforestry Centre), the workshop gathered key stakeholders for a dialogue about sustainability in Indonesia’s cocoa industry.
“One of the most valuable discussions was about how to improve productivity while still protecting the environment,” said Andi Sitti Asmayanti, the Southeast Asia director for Cocoa Life. With 93 percent of the country’s cocoa produced on small farms, the Cocoa Life program will be critical to educating cocoa farmers about soil management, fertilizers, the challenges presented by climate change, and how to promote biodiversity and avoid deforestation.