Partnering to Protect our Planet’s Forests

Author Kate Clancy

Cocoa & Chocolate Sustainability Manager
Cargill
Photo by Cargill

This year’s International Day of Forests – celebrated on March 21 – is themed around education, with an emphasis on why our planet’s forests need protection. Raising awareness around this issue is crucial, especially at a time when deforestation within the cocoa supply chain remains prevalent. At Cargill we are taking concrete steps to tackle deforestation while also securing the livelihoods and socioeconomic resilience of smallholder cocoa farmers.

To this end, in November 2017, Cargill pledged its commitment to the Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI). We have solidified this commitment by releasing our CFI Action Plan, which spells out how we will work to end deforestation and restore forest areas in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, using satellites in the sky and boots on the ground.

Collaboration and partnership are at the heart of our efforts. The bean to bar value chain encompasses many different stakeholders, from smallholder farmers all the way through to cocoa producers and customers. But it also relies on wider engagement with governments and NGOs. We need a joined-up approach that encourages each stakeholder to take action where they are best placed to do so, and make a difference in their own way.

The CFI commitments are focused on forest protection and restoration, sustainable production and farmers’ livelihoods, and community engagement and social inclusion. All three areas are vital for ensuring that cocoa farmers can make a living from cocoa farming, while respecting the environment.

Beyond the CFI, Cargill has also set out to eliminate deforestation in all five countries from where we directly source cocoa, as well as tackling deforestation in our indirect supply chains. In 2018, we introduced our Protect our Planet Strategic Action Plan, which lays out our approach. Partnerships are central to this plan also, with Transformation Together forming one of the plan’s five pathways. So far, we’ve taken the following actions:

  • Mapping over 85,000 farms within our direct supply chain in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire to better understand deforestation risks. Together with the World Resources Institute (WRI), we have assessed 75% of these, which in turn allows us to take targeted action.
  • Delivering training to over 110,000 farmers in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire on how to increase yields from existing farmland, reducing the need for them to expand into protected forest areas.
  • Ensuring that farming communities have access to a wider range of income-generating activities and resources that allow them to play a part in protecting our planet. For instance, working with PUR Projet, we have launched pilot programs focused on reforestation and agroforestry efforts that will also benefit farmer livelihoods.

Sustainability is not something that can be achieved by any one company or stakeholder group. That is why cross-sectoral collaboration is embedded within the UN Sustainable Development Goals, with a view to fostering partnerships “built upon principles and values, a shared vision, and shared goals that place people and the planet at the center”. The CFI is a perfect example of this. We believe in the power of partnerships for driving long-lasting, far-reaching impact because together we are more than the sum of our parts – and it is only together that we can stay the course towards a truly sustainable cocoa sector.

This article was originally published by Cargill, cargill.com.