Cocoa & Forests Initiative Frameworks for Action Workshop Opening Remarks

January 23, 2018

Speech given by Richard Scobey, WCF President

Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, January 18, 2018

Mr. Minister of Water and Forests

Madame Minister of Environment, Urban Health, and Sustainable Development

Mr.  Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development

Mr. Minister of Special Counsel of the Prime Minister (SE)

Mr. Director General of the Conseil du Café Cacao

Mr. Special Advisor to the President of the Republic for the Environment, Water Resources and Forests (Fofana)

Madame Executive Director of GEPEX

Distinguished Members of Government

Distinguished Members of the Diplomatic Corp

Distinguished company members of the World Cocoa Foundation

Distinguished representatives of technical and financial partners                              

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I bring you warm greetings from the Board of Directors of the World Cocoa Foundation as well as from 100 cocoa and chocolate companies from across the globe who are members of our organization.

Over the past two days, we have come together to begin the important work to launch the joint Framework for Action under the Cocoa and Forests Initiative.  I want to thank the Minister of Water Resources and Forests, the convener of this workshop, and all the government partners who have contributed to the discussions, for the excellent cooperation and useful discussions.

Around the world, over half the world’s tropical forests have been lost over the past 50 years.  A small number of agricultural commodities have been primary drivers of deforestation, notably oil palm, soy, and timber.  In the case of West Africa, cocoa has also played a major role.

In recognition of this problem, the world’s cocoa and chocolate companies came together to work with the Government of Cote d’Ivoire to end deforestation in the cocoa sector in Cote d’Ivoire, and preserve and rehabilitate the forests of Cote d’Ivoire.  We began this journey on March 16, 2017, when we launched the industry statement of intent at a meeting in London convened by Prince Charles, and we reached closure on the process on November 16, 2017, in Bonn, when Minister Donwahi and I signed the Framework. 

This has been a remarkable 8-month journey.  Sometimes this road was bumpy, as we needed to reach agreement on complex issues with no easy solutions. But we established mutual trust, and we embraced the key principle of shared responsibility for past actions and future solutions.

We are now entering the most difficult phase of our collaboration – implementing the specific actions and commitments that we have set out in the Framework for Action. Mapping out the timeline, accountabilities, and next steps for implementation has been our focus for the past two days – and I am pleased to report to this meeting that we have made excellent progress.  

I want to underscore the industry’s commitment to stand with the Government as a trusted partner to implement the Framework.  We commit to eight critical principles:

  1. Prohibit and prevent activities in the cocoa sector that cause or contribute to any further deforestation or forest degradation in protected areas;
  2. Respect the rights of cocoa farmers, including identifying and mitigating social risks, and sequencing the implementation of actions to minimize potential adverse social and economic impacts;
  3. Promote the effective restoration and long-term conservation of National Parks and Reserves, and Forests Reserves and Forêts Classées;
  4. Strengthen supply chain mapping, with the end goal of full traceability at the farm-level;
  5. Implement verifiable actions and timebound targets on the basis of good maps, sound data, robust analysis, stakeholder consultation, and realistic timeframes;
  6. Implement agreed actions in the context of a broader landscape-level approach, with strong links with similar initiatives in other commodities, and full alignment with the national REDD+ strategy and other relevant national strategies and plans;
  7. Work closely with the Government, and other partners, to implement the Framework actions, and we will help mobilize the necessary financing, resources and technical support for implementation;
  8. Provide effective monitoring and reporting on progress on commitments and actions to ensure transparency and accountability.

Throughout this process, we have seen that the Ivorian Government has taken full measure of the degradation of its forest cover and is committed to developing and implementing a new strategy for forest preservation and rehabilitation. The authorities of the country at the highest level have been engaged for several months in a series of consultations with civil society, the private sector, and technical and financial partners, which resulted in a harmonization of views on new directions.

WCF and our companies are committed to support the implementation of the Government’s new strategic directions, and we will remain a trusted partner to ensure the sustainability of cocoa and the health of the planet, and the prosperity of the Ivorian cocoa farmers.