Drivers of Change: 2019 Partnership Meeting Opening Remarks by Richard Scobey, WCF President

As prepared for delivery


I want to extend a warm welcome to the Annual Partnership Meeting of the World Cocoa Foundation.

We are delighted to have 46 member companies in attendance – this is a record level of participation.  I particularly want to shout out the new members who have joined us in 2019, including Unilever, Sainsbury’s, GCB Cocoa, PBC Limited, Adikanfo Commodities Limited, and KKO International.

The Partnership Meeting is an important opportunity for the cocoa family to come together and discuss key issues.   I want to express my sincere thanks to the companies supporting this year’s event:

  • Mars Wrigley as Platinum Sponsor
  • Olam as Gold Sponsor
  • Cargill as Cocoa Reception Sponsor;
  • Silver sponsors Barry Callebaut, Compañía Nacional de Chocolates, Hershey, Luker Chocolate, and Mondelez;
  • And Bronze Sponsors ECOM, our newest member GCB, and IDH.

I want to extend a special welcome and thanks to two global leaders who play a critical role in ensuring the sustainable supply of cocoa in the world, and have been great partners of WCF: Mr. Yves Brahima Koné, Director General of the Conseil du Café Cacao, and Mr. JB Aidoo, Chief Executive of the Ghana Cocoa Board.

We are honored to have other valued partners with us, including

  • Heidi Hautala, Vice President of the European Parliament,
  • Hermann Schloeder, Head of Division, Manager of Land Market and Export of Germany’s Federal Ministry of Nutrition and Agriculture,
  • Stefan Schmitz, Deputy Director-General, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development,
  • Charlotte Gornitzka, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF and Assistant Secretary General of UN,
  • Viwanou Gnassounou, Assistant Secretary-General, The African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States,
  • Bright Wireko-Brobby, Deputy Minister of Labour and Employment Relations from Ghana,
  • Ambassadors from Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana,
  • My brother and sister heads of organizations – Michel Arrion from ICCO; Nick Weatherill, from ICI; Catherine Entzminger from ECA; Justin Adams from TFA; and Joost Oorthuizen, CEO of IDH;

Finally, I want to acknowledge the most important people in the room: the cocoa farmers, whose hard work and efforts are the backbone of the entire cocoa and chocolate industry.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,

A lot has happened in the cocoa sector since we last met one year ago in Brazil.

  • We have seen the governments of Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana deepen their collaboration on a regional approach to cocoa policy, in line with the Abidjan Declaration announced in March 2018. They have introduced new approaches to pricing, including the introduction of a Living Income Differential, and are taking steps to align their marketing and production systems.
  • We have seen increasing attention of companies, governments, consumers, civil society organizations, and media to the pressing long-term development challenges of living income, climate change and deforestation, and child and forced labor in the cocoa sector.
  • We have seen a deeper focus on cocoa sustainability in the legislatures of cocoa-consuming countries, including increased attention to regulatory options to ensure corporate due diligence and responsible supply chains.
  • Finally, we continue to see the roll out of exciting new technologies and innovations in the sector, including application of more modern production techniques, new tools to facilitate transparency and traceability, and new farming models. We are showcasing some of these interesting developments at our Innovation Marketplace tomorrow morning.

2019 has indeed been a year of change, new thinking, and renewed energy to accelerate sustainability in the sector.

WCF has responded to these developments by rethinking our own strategy over the past year.

Yesterday, the WCF Board of Directors endorsed our new strategic directions.

We have reaffirmed that the vision of WCF is a thriving and sustainable cocoa sector, where farmers prosper, communities are empowered, and the planet is healthy.

We have committed to focus on three long-term goals:

  1. Prosperous farmers become truly sustainable and profitable, with transformation of traditional smallholder farming into modern business that enable farmers to earn sufficient income to achieve a decent standard of living;
  2. Empowered communities lead their own development, human rights are protected, and safety and wellbeing of children and families are strengthened; and
  3. A healthy planet is conserved and enhanced, with resilient and biodiverse landscapes, and the carbon footprint of the sector is reduced.

Industry cannot achieve these goals in isolation – we need a strong enabling environment where we work with origin governments and all stakeholders to drive transformation through three critical levers of change.

  1. Multi-stakeholder collaboration and partnerships, including pre-competitive collective action among companies, and new partnership platforms that bring together governments, industry, and other stakeholders;
  2. Effective government policy and regulatory frameworks, both in producing and consuming countries; and
  3. Aligned public-private investment to create impact at scale, which leverages third-party financing and accelerates science, innovation, and learning.

We have organized this year’s Partnership Meeting to discuss and unpack these three drivers of change.

All of our panels and break out discussions over the next two days reinforce our core strategic message that the building block of sustainability is a living income for farmers.

The industry has been working closely with the governments, farmers, and other partners to make cocoa farming truly sustainable and profitable.  The industry has been clear that we are implementing the Living Income Differential that Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana introduced in July 2019 as part of a mutual objective to raise farmer income. Our company members are incorporating the Living Income Differential into their individual procurement plans for the 2020-21 crop season.

As we focus on increasing farmer income, we must also ensure that the cocoa is grown responsibly. Despite progress, children continue to labor in hazardous conditions on some cocoa farms, with gaps in access to safe, high-quality schooling. Likewise, while deforestation rates are dropping in some protected forests in response to our collaboration with governments under the Cocoa & Forests Initiative, we still see some continued conversion of forest land for smallholder cocoa farming in other areas.

Industry has been accelerating our efforts, in partnership with the governments, to address child labor and deforestation.  We view these steps as essential building blocks to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of no poverty, zero hunger, decent work and economic growth, gender equality, sustainable land use, and climate action.

We are encouraged by the progress that is underway to ensure a responsible supply chain and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.  The sustainability programs of WCF member companies are playing an important role in this progress. We are directly helping almost 700,000 farmers and their families, about 45% of all cocoa growers in Côte d’Ivoire and the Ghana.  These programs:

  • Help farmers improve the yields on their farms so they can earn more income and become more profitable;
  • Train farmers in more environmentally sustainable agricultural practices to mitigate climate change impacts;
  • Strengthening the business and management skills of farmer organizations;
  • Fund new income generating activities for households to increase and diversify their income, with a strong focus on women;
  • Scale up farmer access to finance through programs like Village Savings and Loans Associations;
  • Invest in research and extension to stop the spread of the virulent Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus;
  • Invest in child protection systems to monitor and redress child labor; and
  • Support schools, safe water supply, and other social development priorities to strengthen communities and address the root causes of child labor.

We cannot ensure the long-term sustainability of the sector without farmers receiving fair remuneration for their crop.  Likewise, a long-term increase in farmer remuneration must come from responsible cocoa production, with due attention to child labor, deforestation, and stable long-term supply-side management.

We have developed a very full program for the next two days to unpack these issues and highlight the strategic directions of WCF.

Let me close by again by welcoming you to the Partnership Meeting.  There is an African proverb that says “Wisdom does not come overnight.”  We all are on a shared journey to enhance the sustainability of the cocoa sector, and improve the livelihoods of the cocoa farmers, their families, and their communities.

On behalf of the WCF Team, I hope that the discussions over the next two days enrich our understanding, and inspire us to work harder to accelerate inclusive and sustainable growth in cocoa.

Thank you.