Cocoa Life is committed to eliminating deforestation, maintaining cocoa ecosystems and protecting the land and the forests – it’s our promise to future generations.

Cocoa farmers are already seeing the impacts of climate change and if we don’t take action, current cocoa-producing regions may no longer be suitable for cocoa production in the next 30 years.

Through Cocoa Life we invest in farmer training and adoption of good practices which can include agroforestry, mobilise communities to protect forests, plant trees and more. But we cannot do this alone. Partnerships are key to lasting change and we work together with the industry and governments to put the right policies and plans in place.

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The Issue
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Deforestation disrupts local weather patterns and causes carbon emissions, contributing to global climate change. As weather patterns evolve, like high temperatures and droughts, farmers aren’t able to grow as much cocoa. They’re forced to expand into new areas, triggering this vicious cycle all over again.

Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana, for instance, supply about 60% of the world’s cocoa, but also have high deforestation rates estimated at 2.7% and 2.9%, respectively. Some reports show current cocoa-producing regions may no longer be suitable for cocoa production in the next 30 years if we don’t take action. Cocoa farmers are already seeing the impacts of climate change and are turning to us for advice.

Our Strategy & Progress
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Cocoa Life is protecting the environment and eco-systems where cocoa is grown, by providing training in sustainable practices to increase productivity, protecting forests and making communities more resilient to climate change.

Our strategy is focused on three areas:


  • Training farmers on Good Agricultural Practices to increase cocoa yields
  • Progress to date:
    • Trained more then 88,000 farmers by the end of 2017 on Good Agricultural Practices, like how to best use pesticide and to plant shade trees.
    • Distributed 5.8 million cocoa seedlings to increase productivity
    • Planted over one million non-cocoa trees on cocoa farms in Ghana and registering them so farmers can capture the full value of these trees. We are also planting 700,000 trees in Côte d’Ivoire and 50,000 in Indonesia. Non-coca trees make cocoa farms more productive, through diversification and providing shade, it helps absorb carbon emissions and thus contributes to tackling climate change. Such practices are associated with agroforestry.


  • Mapping all registered Cocoa Life farms to identify areas at risk, and with Global Forest Watch with Global Forest Watch, monitoring tree cover losses and restoring degraded forests
  • Progress to date:
    • Mapped 71,000 farms and use satellite images using solutions like Global Forest Watch to allow us identifying potential signs of cover loss and risk of deforestation in our supply chain.


  • Providing farmers and community members with financial support to strengthen their resilience and ensuring that Community Action Plans prioritize forest protection
  • Progress to date:
    • We’ve successfully piloted an approach in Cote d’Ivoire for farmers and communities to adopt good land-use practices. So far 500 farmers and 5 communities have signed up to the Payment for Environmental Services (PES) to receive payments to recognize the environmental benefits.
    • Support women within cocoa communities to run the nurseries, which supply trees such as fruit trees to the farmers to provide shade for the cocoa farms and work as a source of additional income. Successful pilot in Côte d’Ivoire, linking 6 Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) to 3 nurseries and producing 150,000 tree seedlings for food and timber (proceeds flow back into VSLAs)

"Illegal deforestation in our cocoa supply chain is unacceptable. We work with our program and government partners to tackle such cases: we identify at-risk areas by mapping all the farms registered in our Cocoa Life program, and we incentivize agroforestry, reforestation and forests conservation by piloting payments for environmental systems.
Tackling deforestation is challenging yet necessary, and we want to lead by implementing and sharing lessons learned. Our public commitment is to work on the ground, tackle root causes, and partner with governments and others. The time to act together is now, and fast!"

Cedric van Cutsem, Associate Director Cocoa Life, global operations, Mondelēz International

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We have been committed to take a lead role in driving sector-wide change and have achieved major milestones over the years:

  • 2014: Endorsed the New York Declaration on Forests, seeking to end deforestation
  • 2015: Committed to lead private sector action at the COP21 climate talks in Paris, as part of Côte d’Ivoire’s national program to combat deforestation
  • 2017:
    • Established the Cocoa & Forests Initiative with the World Cocoa Foundation, The Prince of Wales’ International Sustainability Unit and 11 other cocoa and chocolate companies to address deforestation and forest degradation
    • Announced the Cocoa & Forests Initiative’s Frameworks for Action at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP23) with governments in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana
    • Signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Environment in Côte d’Ivoire to support the country’s bold ambition to reach zero deforestation in cocoa
    • Started the first REDD+ project in the Nawa region of Côte d’Ivoire, mapping cocoa farms in 85% of the area to identify and monitor areas at risk for deforestation, and to create land-use plans
    • Published a joint discussion paper with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), exploring how public and private sectors can work together to reduce deforestation in Côte d’Ivoire
  • 2018:
    • Signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the UNDP, Forestry Commission of Ghana and Ghana Cocoa Board to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in the cocoa supply chain across Ghana
    • Committed to publish an action plan through the Cocoa & Forests Initiative with industry and government partners in Ghana
    • Published a climate change impact study on cocoa in Indonesia together with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)
    • Launched expansion of Cocoa Life in Brazil which includes establishing effective agroforestry models to help farmers plant cocoa trees as a part of comprehensive farming plans to restore degraded land in the Amazon rainforest.
  • Ongoing: Continued partnering with the Ghana Cocoa Board and UNDP to distribute shade trees and provide natural resource management and planning tools for cocoa farmers and their communities

"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. I am delighted that the cocoa sector has agreed to work together on the Cocoa & Forests Initiative."

Hubert Weber, Executive Vice President and President, Mondelēz Europe


Cocoa Life trains youth on cocoa-related enterprises, providing opportunities to work alongside cocoa farmers. This enables them to learn about business and good agricultural and environmental practices. In Indonesia, a group of young people initiated a new project to apply those skills. It consisted of transforming organic waste (e.g., plants) into natural fertilizer and reselling it to the farmers. When youth are empowered, they can become effective agents of change.


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