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 ecosystems where cocoa is grown. We provide training in sustainable practices to increase productivity, protect forests, and make our communities more resilient to climate change. Our strategy is focused on three areas:


  • Training farmers on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) to increase cocoa yields, and promoting sustainable livelihoods to enable farmers to be more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
  • Progress to date:
    • Trained more than 181,000 farmers by the end of 2020 on Good Agricultural Practices, like how to best use pesticide and how to plant shade trees.
    • Distributed more than 18 million cocoa seedlings by the end of 2020 to increase productivity.
    • Planted over 1.6 million non-cocoa trees on cocoa farms in Ghana, over 393,000 in Côte d’Ivoire and 112,000 in Indonesia. Non-cocoa trees make cocoa farms more productive. Through diversification and providing shade, they help absorb carbon emissions and thus contribute to tackling climate change. Such practices are associated with agroforestry.
    • Our agri-research team has been working on agroforestry pilots to gain a better understanding of how to make farms more resilient to the impacts of climate change. Learn more in our latest CFI report here.


  • Mapping all registered Cocoa Life farms to identify areas at risk, and with Global Forest Watch, monitoring tree cover losses and restoring degraded forests.
  • Progress to date:
    • Mapped more than 167,790 farms across Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Indonesia, Dominican Republic and Brazil.
    • We use satellite images using solutions like Global Forest Watch to identify potential signs of cover loss and risk of deforestation in our supply chain.
    • Piloted a deforestation risk assessment in Côte d’Ivoire, and covered 125,924 ha of forests by the end of 2019.


  • 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 successfully scaled our Payment for Environmental Service (PES) agroforestry scheme in Côte d’Ivoire and launched in Ghana and Indonesia. By the end of 2020 we had signed PES contracts with 1,537 farmers in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. Farmers receive payments in return for planting non-cocoa trees on their farms, and for protecting and renewing forest areas (Payment for Environmental Services (PES)).
    • We support women within cocoa communities to run tree nurseries, which supply trees such as mahogany acacia, and fruit trees to cocoa farmers, to provide shade for the cocoa farms and work as a source of additional income. We are running a pilot project 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. The proceeds from the trees then flow back into VSLAs.
      To date, our nurseries hold up to 200,000 seedlings in Côte d’Ivoire.
    • Women’s empowerment has always been at the heart of our program, with VSLAs being a core tool for encouraging financial empowerment – we had more than 3,200 in operation by the end of 2020.

"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

Cocoa Life approach to address climate change
Cocoa Life combat deforestation
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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.
  • 2019: Published ambitious action plans to protect and restore forests in cocoa-growing areas across Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Indonesia, as part of the Cocoa and Forests Initiative.
  • 2020:
    • Published the first Cocoa Life CFI progress report on the roll-out of our CFI action plans to protect and restore forests.
    • Partnered with South Pole to develop a tool to estimate the possible carbon impact of Cocoa Life’s interventions on farm and forests.
  • Ongoing: Continued partnership 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.