On December 5, 2019, the One-Year Anniversary of the Beyond Chocolate Partnership took place in Antwerp, Belgium. In Chocolate Nation, the beautiful Belgian Chocolate museum, the partners gathered to celebrate the one-year existence of the partnership and to lay out the road ahead. As such, they presented the Working Group results and the Accountability, Monitoring & Evaluation (AME) framework and launched the call for proposals. The event was also the perfect occasion to welcome new signatories to the partnership and to connect with fellow partners.
Opening and welcome
After giving thanks to the members and facilitators of this event, the chairman of the Steering Committee, Patrick Hautphenne, underlined the importance of this partnership, while also acknowledging the challenges ahead. Since the September 4th General Assembly, the Steering Committee has gone on a mission to Côte d’Ivoire to speak to farmers, local governments, Conseil du Café-Cacao (CCC) and many other players in the international value chain. On top of that, they met with GISCO and SWISSCO, the two other EU platforms on sustainable cocoa, to discuss further alignment. This alignment between the platforms will be an important point on the Beyond Chocolate 2020 agenda. Although the goals of the partnership are ambitious, especially the goals regarding living income, the chairman is convinced that Beyond chocolate signatories will have the necessary impact through hard work and joint commitment. He calls on the partners to: ”Let Belgian Chocolate, our national pride, become sustainable!”
Reflections on Facilitating Beyond Chocolate
Joost Oorthuizen, director of IDH, then shortly commented on the role of IDH within Beyond Chocolate. IDH was contracted by the Belgian government to coordinate the funding, the call for proposals and the monitoring of progress and impact of the program. The outcomes will be published in yearly reports to keep everyone updated. Apart from the financial aspect, it is also IDH’s role to convene stakeholders so they can share knowledge, models and resources, as this will maximize the impact of their programs; Finally, IDH will link the other partnerships GISCO, SWISSCO and the soon-to-be established DISCO. After all, further alignment on a higher level is essential for a high impact. Joost sees Beyond Chocolate as one of the most ambitious initiatives that IDH facilitates. That is why the partners should be proud of their commitment. They are the frontrunners and other countries are closely watching the progress Beyond Chocolate is making. To conclude, Joost thanked Patrick Hautphenne for taking on the role of Chair of the Steering Committee and thanked everyone else present for their commitment.
Plenary Sessions on Living Income, Deforestation and Youth and Decent Work
After these speeches, it was time to go more into detail on Beyond Chocolate’s goals in a plenary panel session with experts. Els Haelterman, moderator of this session, stressed that these working groups are indispensable for reaching the Beyond Chocolate goals.
Anthony Vanoverschelde (The Shift), filling in for Kristin Komives (ISEAL Alliance), Violaine Berger (IDH) and Sylvie Bianchi (Samilia Foundation) represented the three Working Groups (WG) on Living Income, Deforestation and Youth and Decent Work. Together they presented the progress made by the WG’s, as well as the points for further discussion.
First, the Living Income WG underlined that we should start our efforts towards reaching a living income as soon as possible, this without losing sight of our ambitious goals. The fact that people from different professional backgrounds participate in this WG together will be an asset to reaching this goal. Living income is a complex topic and thus needs a robust theory of change. Because of this complexity, no immediate targets are set just yet. Questions were raised on the sphere of influence of Beyond Chocolate, the role farmers and governments should take and on how we can ensure that Beyond Chocolate will be inclusive to all farmers, as well as ensure that the farmers actually produce for the Belgian market.
Second, the Deforestation WG agreed on their key concepts and terminology, as well as on various milestone targets, key actions and the choice for the application of landscape approaches. They also found that the best way to reach the Deforestation Goals will be to build on the work already set out by the Cocoa & Forest Initiative (CFI) and to then go beyond these commitments. Points for further discussion, however, are how to handle external factors, unclarities about the manner of implementation of forest identification methods and the formulation of technical recommendations on agroforestry and reforestation.
Third, the Youth and Decent Work WG agreed on applying a child-centered, holistic approach to address the roots of vulnerabilities, thus making an effective long-term impact. Key elements to address are hazardous work, exploitation, violence, hygiene and health issues and quality education. To achieve impact, we need to involve communities, families and the youth in a gender and culturally sensitive approach. Yet to be clarified is who we should allocate funding to, how the multitude of existing initiatives could be mapped and to which extent local governments are involved in (the development of) quality education. Finally, all the WGs stressed the importance of refining the Accountability, Monitoring and Evaluation framework, including its definitions.
The audience then received input from Chairman Wolf Kropp-Büttner and Executive Secretary Beate Weiskopf (GISCO) on the future of the cocoa platforms. Even though GISCO is hesitant to join the more challenging targets set by Beyond Chocolate, the topics are essentially the same which allows for collaboration. The Chairman and Executive Secretary look forward to harmonizing endeavors and to organizing joint events with the other platforms.
Els Haelterman closed the panel session by presenting the way forward for the WGs, including opportunities for the partners to give feedback and the date on which the consolidated feedback will be presented to the Steering Committee.
The Belgian cocoa Market
After a chocolate break, Professor Xavier Gellynck from Ghent University provided the intermediate results of a market analysis for the Belgian chocolate and cocoa market. He presented key data on the cocoa supply chain: import and export, production and consumption and retail. Over 80% of cocoa that is imported into Belgium is of West-African origin and by far the largest part of (semi-processed) cocoa that is imported passes through neighboring countries. At the end of the line about 535.000 tons of (bulk) chocolate is produced in Belgium yearly. Of the chocolate that is consumed in Belgium, 51% is Belgian chocolate. Prof Gellynck further included various calculations on the amount of farming households that produce cocoa for the Belgian chocolate sector, the number of which is estimated to be between 120.000 and 157.000. There are still uncertainties, however, about productivity levels and farm size. This shows the need for more on-field studies. Similarly, on the certification of products, quite a bit of data is still to be collected.
Accountability, Monitoring & Evaluation Framework
After reminding all partners of the joint commitments, Patrick Stoop from C-Lever.org presented the second version of the Beyond Chocolate’s AME framework. The challenge for the AME framework is the operationalization of concrete targets, monitoring & evaluation of these targets, the reporting on progress and the gradual enhancement of the accountability. Patrick continued with an overview of the objectives of the AME, various deliverables and a timeline. The framework will be developed and implemented progressively. By mid-April a full AME framework and Annual Report 2019 (with baseline data for end 2019) will be published. Afterwards, as part of the ongoing learning process, annual updates of the AME-framework will be presented in April of each year, together with the Annual Report for the previous year. Next, Patrick explained the guiding principles of this framework, such as transparency in measurement and communication, as well as its fundamental challenges; these include the difficulties of singling out the cocoa farmers supplying the Belgian chocolate sector and the mismatches between expected accountability and limitations of the cocoa supply chain.
Finally, Patrick provided the overview of proposed components (indicators and sub-indicators) of the AME framework. In total this version contains nine main indicators, divided into origin transparency, transparency and certification of cocoa sourcing; living income related outcome indicators and deforestation related outcome indicators. The indicators contain measurables such as scoring and price levels. Also included are intended areas of cooperation and alignment with the other platforms. Some indicators, such as living income, are further to be developed. For the final two indicators the framework gives a list of specific data that partners should provide. This allows to keep track of the volume, implementation progress and effectiveness of the corresponding projects. Lastly, the framework provides a template to track the level of progress and achievement of individual commitments that are not covered in indicators 1 to 8.
Call for Proposals
Beyond Chocolate? Beyond Belgium!
After lunch, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Development Cooperation Alexander de Croo, one of the initiating forces of the program, launched the Call for Proposals. In his preceding speech he reflected on the initial phase of Beyond Chocolate and how the ambition expressed by the industry exceeded his expectations. According to him, the best way to lift people out of poverty is through economic development that is inclusive. The Beyond Chocolate Partnership is the promising result of that intention; one in which Belgians can have a serious impact. The supply driven approach has proven to be successful in driving consumers towards a more sustainable choice. Thanks to this initiative they will get to eat Belgian chocolate without any ethical concerns. This partnership on sustainability between ambitious stakeholders that supersedes the North-South reasoning is one of the projects the Minister is most proud to be part of.
The partnership was joined by four new members. Among them the chocolate producers Galler Chocolatiers and Baronie, LITA.co, an impact investment platform and Port of Antwerp. Deputy Prime Minister de Croo signed the new partners.
Galler Chocolatiers, represented by Salvatore Iannello;
Baronie represented by Fons Walder;
Port of Antwerp;
Galler’s CEO Salvatore Iannello and Baronie’s CEO Fons Walder shared a few words about their own cocoa development projects, their ambitions and why they joined this partnership. Also signed but not represented this day were LITA.co and Port of Antwerp.
Funding Criteria Call for Proposals
Beyond Chocolate’s Senior Program Manager Els Haelterman then went through the eligibility criteria as described in the Prospectus Call for Proposals. The proposals for projects should comply with a total of eight criteria. These criteria are described clearly in the Prospectus. Projects will be selected by the Project Review Committee in two steps. First, a Concept Note of the envisioned project must be submitted via the provided template (see Annex). The concept notes will be assessed and reviewed by the Project Review Committee in light of the criteria as defined in the eligibility and selection criteria. The selected applicants are invited to submit a full project proposal based on the approved concept note, after which they will again be assessed by the Project Review Committee and the IDH Investment Committee. An important side note is that an applicant can be part of multiple projects. However, the maximum amount of co-funding shall never exceed the maximum amount they are entitled to if the applicant would have submitted one project.
Lastly, Els shared the guidelines for reporting, the governance structure of the program including all its committees and the funding for Beyond Chocolate. Right now, two million Euros is made available to be spend in co-financing.
Inspiration session and Pitches
The day was concluded with a collection of inspiring, successful initiatives from partners and a session in which partners could pitch their expertise and ambitions to find common ground with others for the coming phase.