Two years on: our progress in protecting and restoring forests

Progress Blog
Two years on: our progress in protecting and restoring forests

Cedric van Cutsem, Associate Director Cocoa Life, Operations, Mondelez International

Last year we announced our ambitious action plans to protect and restore forests of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana as part of the Cocoa and Forests Initiative (CFI). We even went beyond to include an action plan for our third largest origin country, Indonesia. Today, we’re proud to report the significant progress we have been making since 2018 against our 2022 targets.

This comes at a crucial time. Indeed, Mondelēz International recently set a new Science Based-Target to reduce its end-to-end greenhouse gas emissions by 10% by 2025 (compared to 2018). Cocoa Life’s work protecting and restoring forests in cocoa-growing regions is a vital step to achieving this and a crucial promise to future generations.

It also comes during this time of COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic is an incredibly serious health challenge that puts the most vulnerable people at risk – a group that includes cocoa farmers registered in our Cocoa Life program and their communities. Health and safety for all is our priority at Mondelēz International, and as the world joins together to tackle this crisis, we believe it is crucial not to lose focus on the vital work we are doing.

Our roll-out approach for our CFI action plans has been twofold: to enhance and scale up our most successful initiatives; while also piloting and learning from new, innovative approaches that will be accelerated or course-corrected this year.

Scaling up: an overview of our key results

A main highlight from our results is that we have mapped 100% of the farms registered with Cocoa Life in Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Indonesia when we set our targets in 2018. We are also well on our way to mapping farms newly registered in 2019. This means we had partners walking around every single farm with a GPS device to identify the borders and the area of each parcel. And we did this across more than 145,000 farms!

Last year, we announced our Payment for Environmental Services (PES) pilot in Côte d’Ivoire. PES are financial incentives that encourage farmers to transition to agroforestry by planting non-cocoa trees on their farms, and protecting and renewing forest areas. Agroforestry techniques are important as it makes farms become more sustainable, efficient and resilient to environmental changes. By the end of 2019, over 1,000 cocoa farmers had signed PES contracts, and we’re pleased to say that we have secured partnerships to roll this out further in 2020.

Training in Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) is crucial for enabling productive, sustainable farming businesses, and so is a core element of our program. In 2018 and 2019, we trained more than 134,000 Cocoa Life registered farmers in GAP in these three cocoa growing countries.

Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) are another essential Cocoa Life activity. In each village, we establish associations made of women but also men. Through the association, we insist on the importance of savings and collective investments. Each member is invited to same what they can afford and the association then decides how to use the funds collected. VSLAs support diversification on and off-farm, also allowing cocoa farming households to become more resilient to the impacts of climate change. In 2018 and 2019, more than 32,000 famers in Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Indonesia participated in VSLAs. This is a long-standing feature of our program that we will continue to drive, while enhancing it to create even more job opportunities by linking VSLAs to seedling nurseries.

Where we’re going next

At Cocoa Life, we believe it is essential to continuously pilot and test innovative approaches. Remember, we are chocolate makers and not experts in forests protection and restoration so we still have a steep learning curve ahead of us! The last two years have seen us socialize a number of new interventions, providing in-depth learnings that have readied us to scale up in 2020 and beyond. One of these is the first ever tree registration app we launched, for farmers in Ghana to register their trees digitally via smartphone.

Mondelēz International’s Cocoa Life program is to be congratulated for trying new, innovative approaches that are enabling farmers to produce more cocoa on less land in an effort to drive out deforestation and tackle climate change.

Jonas Mva Mva, Director, Cocoa Program, IDH the Sustainable Trade Initiative

As we move towards 2022, we are focusing on embedding what we have learned, and reinforcing our support in farming communities.

Partnerships: the key to lasting change

We are delighted with the progress made so far, both on the ground and in the partnerships that are helping us to deliver measurable impact. We can confidently say that our success to date has, in large part, been possible because of the deep relationships we have built with the cocoa farmers, government agencies, the private sector and NGOs working on the ground.

“Mondelez International is a key partner in our efforts to tackle deforestation in cocoa growing areas, and demonstrates a sincere commitment to protecting our forests and our climate. Together, we hope to create a dynamic and robust partnership in order to achieve our joint goals of protecting the forests while strengthening the cocoa industry”

Mr. Alain-Richard Donwahi, Minister of Water and Forests, Côte d'Ivoire

All industry players have a responsibility to deliver on their targets, and to ensure continued progress, we are committed to continue working together with our network of partners. We invite and encourage other industry players to share their learnings on combatting deforestation and remain dedicated to sharing ours, an approach that is crucial for transparency and collaboration towards our shared goal – protecting and restoring our forests for future generations.

We look forward to sharing more exciting progress in year from now and will continue advocating for collective actions – as no single company can solve this alone!

Learn more about the actions of CFI signatories – companies and governments - on the websites of our partners the World Cocoa Foundation and IDH The Sustainable Trade Initiative.