German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa Adopts New Objectives

Photo by GISCO

Living income for cocoa farming households, compliance with human rights and cocoa production without deforestation: the members of the German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa (GISCO) committed to clearly define their objectives at the 2019 general meeting in Berlin. These objectives serve as a framework for action for a sustainable cocoa sector and include twelve individual goals. For GISCO, sustainable cocoa goes beyond certification. The World Cocoa Foundation is an important partner of GISCO. As we get ready to welcome the 2019 WCF Partnership Meeting to Berlin for the first time, we would like to share Germany’s progress in tackling cocoa sustainability issues.

The general meeting in 2019 helped the nearly 80 members of the German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa to define GISCO’s objectives and address the issue: What is sustainable cocoa? This was preceded by a 12-month internal strategy process involving all four stakeholder groups, the German government, civil society, industry and the food trade. These twelve goals are GISCO’s guideline and incentive. We are currently defining the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as the basis for the impact monitoring as well as our activities for 2020. We are particularly keen to harmonize the indicators and the monitoring system as far as possible with other actors and thus contribute to a global system that monitors progress towards a sustainable cocoa sector. For this, we are also working with the World Cocoa Foundation and the other European platforms because we can only achieve change in the sector in cooperation with the other key players and like-minded partners in Europe such as Switzerland, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Photo by GISCO

The “Berlin Declaration” states clearly: The cocoa sector will not be sustainable as long as cocoa farmers cannot earn a living income. Creating better living conditions for the cocoa farmers and their families is the purpose of our initiative and our priority task. The poverty of cocoa farmers is one of the main causes of child labor – and besides deforestation in the growing regions – it remains one of the most significant challenges in the cocoa sector.  The income situation of cocoa farming families is of particular importance to us because only 13% of cocoa farming families in Côte d’Ivoire achieve a living income.

Within our project PRO-PLANTEURS, in cooperation with the Ivorian government, we are addressing these challenges and currently reach more than 20,000 cocoa producers. Data gathered through case studies could already show visible income effects. A more comprehensive impact study will be conducted at the beginning of next year. Furthermore, we are pleased to enter into a second phase of the project in 2020-2025, again together with the Ivorian government.

We see an urgent need for action and GISCO is dedicated to contributing to a solution:

  1. There must be closer cooperation between cocoa consuming countries and a stronger dialogue between consuming and producing countries on cocoa sustainability issues. Governments and industry have a key role to play in this.
  2. There must be closer cooperation between cocoa-producing countries, for example, on the supply of cocoa. We believe that the International Cocoa Organization can play an important role here.
  3. The development of the cocoa sector must be embedded locally in the sustainable development of the entire agricultural sector. The development of sustainable regions seems to us to be a suitable approach for moving forward across sectors.

About the German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa

The German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa (GISCO) is a joint initiative of the Federal Government, civil society, industry and retail and brings together relevant actors from Germany with those of producing countries and international initiatives. The goal of GISCO is to improve the living conditions of cocoa farmers, to protect and preserve natural resources and biodiversity in the producing countries as well as to increase the proportion of sustainable cocoa. GISCO currently has more than 70 members and is open to other interested parties. See here for more information.