Towards climate resilient cocoa communities

Progress Blog
Towards climate resilient cocoa communities

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

For Mondelēz International, conserving the land and forests is a promise to ourselves today, and to future generations. The last year has only accentuated the urgent need to tackle climate change: one of the biggest global challenges faced by our planet, people, and our business. That’s why I am pleased to share our latest Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI) progress report today.

Our report shares the strides we have made and challenges we faced protecting and restoring forests around Cocoa Life communities in a year shaped by lockdown. In the report, we look at the two CFI countries of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, as well as going beyond the CFI commitment to look at the Indonesian Cocoa Life program.

We’re also pleased to share that we have partnered with South Pole to develop a tool to estimate the possible carbon impact of Cocoa Life’s forest interventions. The tool has been built to assess the carbon reductions that have been delivered historically, as well as the ones that can be achieved over the mid-to-long-term. We’re still in the initial stages, but are encouraged by its detailed analysis of specific Cocoa Life interventions and their carbon impact. We’re currently validating these findings and welcome input from across the sector throughout this process. More details can be found in the full report.

An Overview of Last Year’s Priorities

We’ve seen strong progress against our CFI commitment targets from October 2019 to September 2020, for instance:

  • Trained over 64,700 farmers in Good Agricultural Practices in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire; with a total of 181,257 farmers trained globally by the end of 2020
  • Distributed more than 712,700 trees for on-farm and off-farm planting in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire; with a total of 975,848 trees planted as part of our CFI commitment since 2018 and 2.2 million trees planted globally by the end of 2020
  • Mapped more than 22,000 farms in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire from October 2019 to September 2020, with a total of 97,630 farms mapped as part of our CFI commitment since 2018 and 156,077 farms mapped globally by the end of 2020
  • Facilitated the involvement of 43,653 community members in women’s empowerment projects and activities in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire - because women are impact amplifiers, especially when it comes to climate change.


Across Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Indonesia, we saw three consistent themes emerge this year:

  1. Landscape-wide impact through ambitious partnerships
  2. Scaling up what our years of experience tells us works
  3. People are crucial for continued momentum and resilience


These themes guide our report, but also the actions we will be taking looking forward. COVID-19 has opened our eyes to new ways of doing things, and although we’ve faced some hurdles, we’ve also learnt a lot along the way - lessons that will likely influence our interventions and methods long into the future. But our key learning reinforced something we already knew to be true: to reduce deforestation in the cocoa supply chain and tackle climate change, all private and public sector actors must work together.

"We’re pleased to see the continuous benefits from our partnership with Mondelēz International and how their integrated landscape approaches and cocoa rehabilitation activities are contributing to the long-term productivity of high quality cocoa. We’re united by our belief that open dialogue with farmers and their communities and working with them on the ground through trainings, environmental protection strategies and taskforces, is essential to tackling deforestation."

Musah Abu-Juam, Technical Director (Forestry), Ministry of Lands and Forests, Ghana


Scaling up Despite Challenges

Our teams and partners haven’t been able to get on the ground as much as we had planned, providing communities with critical support through COVID-19 was our upmost priority, and in some cases, we are not where we thought we would be this year.

Despite these challenges, I am pleased that we have continued scaling up our program and creating tangible results in cocoa-growing communities - we’re proud to report that more than 160,800 farmers in 2,140 communities in the three CFI countries were registered with the Cocoa Life program by the end of 2020. We are also rolling out the innovative Payments for Environmental Services scheme that incentivizes farmers to plant new trees and apply climate-smart practices.

As we approach the deadline for our ambitious scale up plan - less than two years on from the publication of this report - we know it’s important to use our learnings to accelerate successful innovations or course-correct when needed to have the greatest impact on the ground. We’re determined to take action and keep going: to innovate, share knowledge, measure our impact, spark collective actions, and drive forward landscape partnerships.

"We would like to express our satisfaction with the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development with Mondelēz International. Over the past two years, this partnership has made it possible to introduce and pilot the innovative approach to payments for environmental services in the Nawa region of Côte d'Ivoire and has played an important role in our strategy for scaling-up PES around the Taï National Park. This collaboration is a driver of innovation for the future of cocoa in Côte d'Ivoire that must be welcomed. We will continue to ensure joint efforts with Mondelēz and to share our expertise in monitoring projects of the Cocoa Life Program to achieve the targeted objectives."

Kouame Ernest AHOULOU, Permanent Executive Secretary of REDD +, Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, Côte d'Ivoire


Bringing Together Ambition and Action to Tackle Climate Change

Cocoa Life’s mission is ambitious: we want to be leading the transformation of the cocoa sector. That has always meant working together with partners to generate action that drives genuine value for our businesses, farmers and the environment. We know that partnerships will amplify and accelerate the impact we can have as one program and so we invite all across the sector to join us in strengthening the sector’s approaches, engaging with peers and partners, and opening transparent conversations for a forest positive future.

To learn more, follow #cocoaandforests on social media, or visit the websites of our partners IDH and the World Cocoa Life Foundation at and