Prince Charles visits the Cocoa & Forests Initiative in Accra

A high level Cocoa & Forests Initiative meeting was organized to brief HRH the Prince of Wales on progress of the initiative, on the 5th of November in Accra. The meeting was attended by the governments of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire and business leaders. The discussions focused on the progress made over the past year in implementing the key joint commitments set out in the Frameworks of Action.  Governments also discussed the their National Implementation Plans for 2018-2020, and companies their progress in finalizing their detailed individual company action plans.

It was highlighted at the meeting that key accomplishments over the past year include new restrictions related to land conversion for cocoa and to sourcing of cocoa from national parks, introduction of stronger land-use frameworks to differentiate and protect high conservation value forests, and development of more sustainable cocoa agroforestry production systems. Business leaders from the cocoa and chocolate industry briefed HRH the Prince of Wales on specific activities they support in their supply chains. The leaders included representatives from Barry Callebaut, Cargill, Mars Wrigley Confectionery, Mondelēz International, Nestlé, Olam Cocoa, The Hershey Company, SIAT and Touton.

The companies expressed that eliminating deforestation in the cocoa supply chain is a top priority.  They are excited to work with the governments and other partners to develop new approaches and technologies for cocoa sustainability that are “wins for the farmer, the countries, the planet, and our businesses.”

The meeting participants stressed the importance of sustainable agricultural intensification in environmentally suitable areas and increased farmer incomes as essential pre-requisites for reducing pressure for agricultural encroachment in forests. Key steps are underway to grow more cocoa on less land, scale up climate-smart cocoa production, and ensure that cocoa can be tracked to the exact farm location.

The two governments expressed their appreciation to HRH the Prince of Wales for the support and keen interest in protecting rainforest and livelihoods of people in the forest and cocoa sector. They pledged their commitments to implement their National Implementation Plans under various thematic areas under their jurisdiction. They also outlined the various strategies adopted in eliminating forest degradation and climate change, to ensure sustained livelihoods for cocoa farmers while reducing carbon emissions and making the cocoa sector climate-resilient.

In HRH’s address, he remarked that he was very pleased to have the opportunity to join all present to hear of developments in the CFI program and congratulated both governments for their active roles in the initiative. He stated that the region of West Africa is one of the hotspots identified with rapid climate change. The Sustainable Development Goals have identified this region as highly sensitive. This public private partnership is built on trust and accountability and it is heartwarming to see the commitment of government and private companies to the initiative, he added. He urged all present at the meeting to strive for accelerated action and commended both Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire for the strategies adopted in solving their environmental challenges especially forest degradation. He also said that effective monitoring, spirit of partnership and collaboration are all very essential in this initiative.  He tied the success of CFI to the long-term sustainability of the cocoa industry and the livelihoods it supports. He concluded that it will be delightful to come again and get a good report from CFI next year.

Preceding the meeting was a high level Cocoa & Forests Initiative meeting in the morning. The meeting brought together governments (Ghana and Côte D’Ivoire), industry and other partners to share various output progress updates and also discuss the way forward in the implementation of the Cocoa & Forests Initiative. The objective of this initial meeting was to collate progress made, and the way forward, to serve as the platform for meeting with the Prince on the progress made in the implementation of the CFI. Open discussions were also held on the most important next steps to accelerate implementation and impact of the project as well as how to effectively engage with all of the key stakeholders, particularly farmers and civil society partners.

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