Cocoa and Forests Initiative technical committee meeting: Moving forward the fight against cocoa-related deforestation in Côte d’Ivoire

On June 14, 2023, the Technical Committee of the Cocoa and Forests Initiative (CFI) held its eleventh meeting.

CFI is an active commitment between leading cocoa-producing countries, in particular Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, and chocolate and cocoa companies. Its aim is to halt deforestation linked to cocoa farming and restore degraded forest areas by preventing further conversion of forests for cocoa production. This is being achieved through the implementation of a 2022-2025 action plan, which builds on the successes of the initial pilot phase (2018 – 2020) in  Côte d’Ivoire, such as progress in the fight against deforestation, reforestation, agroforestry, and cocoa traceability.

CFI has been highly successful in bringing together various stakeholders in the cocoa and forestry industries, including governmental and private entities, civil society, and financial and technical partners. This collaboration has been instrumental in advancing cocoa sustainability”, as mentioned by the Chair of the CFI Technical Committee, the General Conservator Zouzou Épse Mailly Elvire Joëlle, who is also the Chief of Staff of the Minister of Waters and Forests.

At the last Steering Committee meeting, certain decisions were made. The priority landscapes chosen for collective action were selected, and CFI’s Permanent Secretariat was assigned to initiate the projects. Furthermore, the 2022-2025 action plan was adopted, and CFI priorities for the year 2023 approved.

The Technical Committee convened for its eleventh meeting, providing an opportunity to evaluate the progress made in implementing the above-mentioned resolutions and action plan from the Steering Committee. Reports from the consultation workshops on the collaborative projects for the Yapo-Abbé classified forest and the Bossématié reserve, two of the priority landscapes selected by the Steering Committee, were presented and discussed. The next steps towards developing these projects were explored. The progress of the pilot project to operationalize the Ministry of Waters and Forests’ deforestation alertsmanagement procedure, and the initiative’s monitoring and evaluation system, were also discussed.

The technical meeting was also the opportunity to make an update on other key topics of the 2025 action plan and ongoing activities related to the fight against deforestation in the cocoa areas in the country, including : the national traceability strategy, the national system for forests monitoring & the country activities to implement the European Union Regulation on Deforestation (EUDR) that enters into force on June 30th, 2023. The partners agreed on the importance of CFI, as a platform to promote synergies of action between the private sector and the public administration, to contribute to the country’s readiness preparation to the EUDR.

The meeting was also an opportunity for the members of the CFI Permanent Secretariat, such as the World Cocoa Foundation, represented by its Country Director, Youssouf Ndjoré “to renew the commitment of the Cocoa and Chocolate industry to meeting its responsibilities within this collective initiative“. Regarding IDH Côte d’Ivoire, the facilitator of this partnership, Carole Attoungbré, Country Director, “reiterated the need for the initiative’s partners to spare no effort in bolstering their collective actions, particularly in the context of the implementation of the European Union Regulation on Deforestation (EUDR)”.