Protecting Forests and Combating Climate Change

Progress Blog
Protecting Forests and Combating Climate Change

By Mbalo Ndiaye, Country Lead of Mondelēz International’s Cocoa Life program in Côte d’Ivoire - 06/14/17

Forests are the foundation of sustainable agriculture. They provide the climate that farmers need to grow cocoa. They supply resources, such as wood and water that communities use in everyday life. But in Côte d’Ivoire, these forests are being depleted. When the farmers’ yields aren’t enough, they clear more land for crops

At Cocoa Life, we are leading the way in preserving these forests. I’m proud to announce that today Mondelēz International signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Environment of Côte d’Ivoire. The first partnership of this scale, this agreement sets forth a collaboration to protect forests in the cocoa supply chain.

Starting in the Nawa region, which borders the precious Taï National Park, Cocoa Life will work jointly with the Ministry of Environment to map cocoa farms. This information will help us to identify and monitor areas that are at risk for deforestation and to create land-use plans. 

At the same time, we will engage communities and help farmers increase productivity. Cocoa Life provides training in good agricultural practices and access to high-quality seedlings and inputs, such as pesticides and fertilizer. By growing more cocoa on less space, farmers will have land for other crops and reforestation. To diversify and protect the forest canopy, we will supply seedlings for farmers to plant on their farms.

This work is part of the U.N.’s REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries) program in Côte d’Ivoire, supported by the World Bank. Cote d’Ivoire’s bold goal is zero-net deforestation in cocoa. The hope is that our experience will be applied to other origin countries. In fact, we’re currently exploring expanding this REDD+ partnership in Ghana, having signed a letter of intent with the United Nations Development Programme and the country’s forestry commission.

“In Ghana, our efforts center on conserving the natural ecosystems to maintain and provide viable environments and farmland for future generations, primarily through the promotion of good agricultural practices and planting economic trees. Additionally, we are piloting Community Resource Management Areas (CREMA) in 36 communities. CREMAs serve as natural resource management and planning tools that are the basis for community initiatives. A manual on good environmental practices has been developed and is used in the training of farmers.”

Jephthah Mensah, Agricultural and Environmental Manager, Cocoa Life Ghana

These efforts are critical, because deforestation is a driver of climate change. We’re already witnessing how these effects negatively impact cocoa-farming communities. Droughts and less rainfall lead to smaller cocoa beans and lower yields, reducing farmer incomes. Based on our growing concern, we are stepping up our environmental focus to protect forests and help farmers become resilient. For example, we provide farmers with access to drought-tolerant seedlings and will also explore innovative financial instruments to incentivize forest-friendly cocoa production.

Today, we are publishing a position paper detailing our three-tiered strategy: produce, protect, and people. Our focus involves helping farmers and cocoa-growing communities protect their own natural resources. Not only does this benefit the environment, but it also promotes other issues in cocoa-growing communities, such as education and healthcare. This is why we’re establishing climate change as a cross-cutting theme across our five pillars. By empowering the community, we can create lasting change.