Joining forces to protect fragile forests in West Africa

Progress Blog
Joining forces to protect fragile forests in West Africa

By Hubert Weber, Executive Vice President and President Mondelēz Europe - 03/17/17

It was an honor to represent Mondelez International as the cocoa sector joined forces this week to protect fragile forests in West Africa.
With other chocolate and cocoa companies, I attended a meeting with HRH The Prince of Wales to sign an agreement to develop a forest protection plan, working with the governments of the two main cocoa-producing nations, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

Front row, first left, Hubert Weber, front row, fifth from the left, HRH the Prince of Wales.

The agreement, organised by World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) and The Prince's International Sustainability Unit, will help us grow our impact by supporting the entire cocoa sector to be more sustainable.

We believe public-private partnerships are critical to transforming the cocoa sector and tackling deforestation because of their power to combine the resources and expertise of governments, donors, industry, suppliers and - most importantly - farmers all working together.

No-one can do this on their own. That’s why partnership is one of three non-negotiable principles in our supply chain program, Cocoa Life, and why we so value the WCF bringing together critical actors to tackle the challenge of deforestation in cocoa together.

We announced our commitment to lead private sector action addressing this issue at the UN climate summit, COP21, in 2015. I am delighted that the cocoa sector has now agreed to work together on this.

Deforestation in our cocoa supply matters to us because we estimate that, along with palm oil, it makes up the largest part of our carbon footprint.

And it matters to farmers because they depend on the forest to protect the fragile environment they need to grow cocoa, by providing regular rain and helping to protect against the effects of climate change.

Yet farmers have been expanding into forests because their cocoa yields are low, so the only way to meet growing demand is to clear new land.

Through Cocoa Life, we are looking to break this cycle by helping farmers grow more cocoa on their existing farms, build their resilience to climate change and improve their incomes.

We’re also working in partnerships, such as our new relationship with Fairtrade who will help communities become more resilient to climate change, as well as partnerships with the Côte d’Ivoire government, World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme.

These efforts will help meet our corporate 2020 Sustainability goals to step up our actions against climate change by addressing deforestation in key raw material supply chains, as well a science-based target to cut manufacturing emissions by 15%.

Examples of work on the ground
  • Collaborating with Côte d’Ivoire government, World Bank and others to support the national REDD+ program to protect forests

  • Farmer mapping and monitoring to identify where farmers are in deforestation risk areas, flag potential issues and track progress

  • Major tree planting initiative with UNDP in Ghana to reintroduce native shade trees to cocoa farms as part of efforts to conserve biodiversity and improve climate resilience. Since 2014, more than 787,000 trees have been distributed to more than 9,600 cocoa farmers. The seedling planting and survival rates are about 90 percent and 95 percent, respectively.

  • Work beyond West Africa: providing farmers in Indonesia with free tree seedlings to prevent soil erosion and protect against climate-related natural disasters