November 2019 marked the 2-year anniversary of the signing of the Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI) Joint Framework for Action. On the occasion, the highest decision body of the CFI governance – the Oversight Committee in Ghana and Steering Committee in Côte d’Ivoire – met in November 2019 and took stock of progress and challenges and agreed on CFI priorities for the next year.
At the meetings in both countries, there was a common agreement that progress has been achieved by CFI partners on important issues, such as the development of company action plans, availability of land maps and classified forest boundaries, and the development of new policy frameworks.
One of the major steps forward in 2019 in Côte d’Ivoire, was the approval of a new Forest Code by Parliament. This new Forest Code acknowledges that some classified forests have a high rate of degradation and human occupation and must therefore be managed differently from other classified forests. It creates a new category of forests called “agro-forest” for those which degradation rate exceeds 75%. Since parliament passed the code, stakeholder consultations have been organized on the application decrees of the Forest Code, so that the comments of civil society, private sector and technical and financial partners can be taken on board before finalization. First application decrees have been released since October 2019 and all the decrees are expected to be released in early 2020.
In Ghana, consultations were also organized on policy reforms on tree tenure and benefit sharing. Changes in tree tenure policy are critical to ensure that farmers have rights over the trees they plant on their farm. With enforced rights, farmers will be incentivized to keep trees on farms and develop agroforestry systems. A registration framework is currently in development that will help with the registration of planted trees.
Another key moment this year for CFI in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire was in March, when companies released their initial CFI action plans to spell out the steps that will be taken over the 2018-2022 period. These action plans feature concrete targets on forest protection and restoration, sustainable production and farmers’ livelihoods, and community engagement and social inclusion. Companies are already implementing key activities from these plans in particular in terms of mapping farms in their direct supply chain to ensure they are not sourcing from protected areas, promoting innovative agroforestry models, as well as engaging in landscape programs to directly address the various drivers of deforestation.
To ensure that the practical implications of the CFI Framework for Action are well understood at landscape level, sensitization activities are also being implemented. The first workshops took place in CFI priority regions that were identified in the CFI National Implementation Plans released in 2018. The CFI Secretariat will continue rolling out these workshops in the remaining priority regions and expect CFI partners to continue these activities in their respective programmes.
Additionally, CFI signatory companies have planned to engage more than 200,000 farmers in Ghana and more than 350,000 farmers in Côte d’Ivoire through awareness-raising campaigns by 2022.Although all these developments are positive, participants in the November 2019 high-level meetings agreed that challenges remain. On the ground implementation need to be intensified, to that the impact of CFI can be visible at landscape level.
In 2020 CFI stakeholder will focus on catalyzing further investments into landscapes where there are still important forests to protect. CFI will also setup a simple but efficient system, to evaluate progress towards commitments and communicate measurable achievements to the world. This will include adoption of a satellite-based monitoring system with deforestation alerts to measure and monitor progress on the overall deforestation target. It will continue the work on a national traceability system, ensuring closer alignment between the work of companies and Government in this space. The CFI will also have to think beyond cocoa and start negotiations with other sectors to collaborate on the protection of the endangered forests in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.
“We are now ready to enter a second phase of the CFI, moving from essential preparation to now-critical implementation. As we make the transition, I would like to thank all of CFI signatories and partners, for taking an interest in the commitments the CFI has made and call upon you to keep challenging and pushing us to do better.” Musah Abu-Juam Technical Director — Forestry, Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.
“We are determined, and I believe we will be an example for the whole world to show how a state can work with the private sector, not in contradiction, but in perfect agreement, for the sake of an industry, the good of the environment, and, most importantly, for the good of the communities that are impacted by our actions.” Alain-Richard Donwahi-Minister of Water and Forests.