Action plans to protect and restore forests, with farmers at the heart

Progress Blog
Action plans to protect and restore forests, with farmers at the heart

By Cedric van Cutsem, Associate Director Cocoa Life, Operations, Mondelēz International - 03/05/19

Today we are announcing ambitious, industry-leading action plans to protect and restore forests in cocoa-growing areas, as part of the Cocoa and Forests Initiative (CFI)*. Our action plans focus on the CFI countries of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana – where the challenge of deforestation is most acute – and Indonesia, taking us above and beyond our CFI commitment.

"The Ghana government is promoting public-private partnerships, which are very critical for sustainable economic growth in all sectors, specifically to secure the future of our forests and make the cocoa sector climate resilient. It is, therefore, encouraging that Mondelēz International’s Cocoa Life program is partnering with government to implement an integrated landscape approach to sustainable cocoa production and forest management. We endorse the actions the company is putting forward as they are there to promote climate smart practices in cocoa production and to advance environmental protection strategies at farmer, community and national levels."

Hon. Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Ghana

As one of the world’s largest chocolate makers, cocoa is vital to our business, so we ensure it is made right. We can create positive impact at scale; we were the first company to raise the issue of deforestation in the cocoa industry in 2015 at the COP21 in Paris and the first chocolate maker to sign Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with the governments of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

We have an innovative farmer-and-community-centered approach to forest protection and restoration that not only aligns to the CFI’s three pillars, but also includes ambitious commitments built on our existing work.

Highlights from our action plans include:

Protect: Understanding where, by whom and under what conditions cocoa is produced is critical for changing farmer behavior. That is why we are one of the first chocolate companies to commit to map 100% of the farms in our supply chain by 2019.

Produce: We are making cocoa farming a business of choice by helping farmers grow more cocoa on less land. We know sustainable practices such as agroforestry – the growing of other trees among crops such as cocoa – will bring long-term benefits. But farmers tell me their immediate concern is income – so we’ve developed incentives to encourage them to adopt these practices. We are the first organization to introduce Payment for Environmental Services (PES) agreements to a cocoa farming context.

These agreements offer farmers financial incentives in return for planting non-cocoa trees on their farms, for protecting and renewing forest areas. This is an approach we’ve successfully piloted in Côte d’Ivoire, and will continue to expand our efforts to other countries and change farmer behavior.

People: We know that deforestation can’t be addressed through cocoa farmers alone, so we involve the whole community. Our Cocoa Life program fundamentals such as the Community Development Committees and Community Action Plans ensure that everyone’s voices are heard and communities can lead their own development. We listen to and co-create with communities – encouraging ownership for forest protection plans. We were that successful that last time I was in Côte d’Ivoire, a village leader educated me on the need to protect forest and explained me our PES approach!

Action Plan

"Mondelēz is to be congratulated for recognizing the key role natural resource conservation plays to ensure sustainable livelihoods and the need for active community participation to protect local natural resources. Landscape restoration is clearly going to be a vital element in confronting climate change and our hope is that others will follow their lead."

David McLaughlin, Senior Advisor, Strategy, Conservation International, and Cocoa Life External Advisor

We must now move even faster to drive progress forward – and we can’t do it alone. We need to stop the talk, show the money, and move into action, fast. Key to the fight to eliminate deforestation is true cross-sector collaboration and commitment, like the Cocoa and Forests Initiative. We encourage everyone who interacts with cocoa farmers in any way to join the collective efforts so we can move even faster, forging strategic partnerships and driving action to achieve lasting change.

"Mondelēz International is a key partner in the Cocoa & Forests Initiative in Côte d'Ivoire. Their action plan is in full compliance with the strategy of preservation, rehabilitation and scaling up adopted by the Government in January 2019. I am impressed by their continued commitment to protecting and restoring forests, as demonstrated by this action plan and we are delighted to learn with them as they scale up their PES pilot from the Nawa region. Together, we hope to create a dynamic and solid cocoa supply chain while transforming the livelihoods of farmers and their communities."

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

The World Cocoa Foundation has also published the industry’s joined action plans, which you can view here.

*The CFI, of which we are a founding member, is a public-private partnership set up in 2017 to end deforestation and promote forest restoration and protection in the cocoa supply chain. The governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, and 31 leading cocoa and chocolate companies, accounting for 85% of the world’s cocoa usage, signed the CFI’s Frameworks for Action, and agreed to publish action plans outlining core commitments and targets needed for a deforestation-free and forest-positive supply chain.

If you would like to receive the detailed action plans for Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Indonesia, please reach out to the Cocoa Life team on .