The EU, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, and the cocoa industry all agreed to speed up efforts to make cocoa more sustainable. They jointly approved a “Alliance on Sustainable Cocoa,” an ambitious roadmap to increase the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of cocoa production and trading, during today’s high-level session of the sustainable cocoa initiative, “Cocoa Talks.”
Following two years of discussions, all sides have committed to a set of concrete time-bound actions to improve the sustainability of the cocoa supply chain in West Africa. These actions aim to halt deforestation and child labour, and improve the living income for farmers. These commitments were endorsed by all and will be closely monitored.
Opening the event, Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade, Valdis Dombrovskis, said: “The Sustainable Cocoa Initiative is a remarkable development. Together with our African partners, we have built a movement for positive change that can benefit everyone: farmers, industry, traders and consumers alike. Today we are taking the next step forward: endorsing a strong Sustainable Cocoa Alliance with a concrete action plan. As the world’s largest importer of cocoa, the EU has a clear responsibility to ensure that the chocolate and cocoa we eat is sustainably produced. This Alliance represents a fine example of the EU’s approach to making trade more sustainable: working with our partners to make a real difference.”
Speaking about the interrelation between economic prosperity and environmental and social sustainability, Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, added: “As the world is confronting an unprecedented global food crisis, triggered by Russia’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine, resilience and sustainability of supply chains has become a pressing priority. Encouraging regular dialogue among local producers and policymakers in Africa and in Europe creates added value for the whole cocoa sector. I experienced this first-hand when I visited a cocoa plantation during my recent mission to West Africa. Through the new “Alliance for Sustainable Cocoa”, supported under the Global Gateway, we can implement innovative solutions to achieve both sustainable and ethical cocoa production practices.
His Excellency Alex Assanvo, Executive Secretary of the Côte d’Ivoire Ghana Cocoa Initiative, stated: “With joint agreement on the critical need to rebalance value chains, the Alliance for Sustainable Cocoa offers us a timely opportunity to act together to strengthen the economic dimension of sustainable cocoa value chains and deliver to farmers a price fully aligned with a living income.“
Importantly, the Alliance will also help producing countries and the cocoa sector prepare for the implementation of the forthcoming EU legislation on deforestation and corporate sustainability due diligence. The Cocoa Talks – and the ensuing Alliance of stakeholders and roadmap – represent an example of innovative ways of working together to implement sustainable trade and development policies and turn some of the objectives of the Green Deal into reality.
The EU is the world’s largest importer of cocoa, accounting for 60% of world imports. Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Cameroon are major suppliers of cocoa into the EU market in value of €4.6 billion (2021). They have duty-free and quota-free access under their respective Economic Partnership Agreements.
Many cocoa farmers already live below or at the poverty line and need to get a better price for a more sustainable product. In September 2020, the Commission launched its Sustainable Cocoa Initiative to enhance the sustainability of cocoa production and trade. In 2021, the EU hosted eight virtual roundtables, the Cocoa Talks, gathering EU stakeholders from the cocoa sector and representatives of Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon. Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire also held parallel national dialogues, and Cameroon launched theirs as well. In parallel, the discussions on sustainability of cocoa continue in the framework of Economic Partnership Agreements.
Although the supply chain problems in the cocoa sector are not new, this initiative has responded to growing EU consumers’ expectations and strong political ambition of the EU to make supply chains more sustainable. It builds on the President von der Leyen’s “zero-tolerance approach to child labour” and feeds into the ongoing work on the EU legislation on corporate sustainability due diligence along EU supply chains and on tackling global deforestation and forests degradation associated to EU’s consumption footprint.
In Côte d’Ivoire, the EU and the European Investment Bank have planned contributions over €200 million. In 2021, under the national Multi-Annual Indicative programme 2021-2027 for Côte d’Ivoire, an €18 million programme was committed to support the implementation of the “Sustainable Cocoa” initiative as part of Global Gateway. Further actions are foreseen in 2022 and 2023.
In Ghana, up to the year 2023, the EU contribution to the cocoa sector will amount to at least €12 million, including through a programme in support of green transition, agribusiness and cocoa already planned for 2023.. Cocoa will also be addressed as a value chain within the “Climate smart agriculture, agribusiness and natural resources management” component of the Team Europe Initiative under Global Gateway on “Smart, green and digital recovery”. The focus will also be on structured policy dialogue on cocoa production for sectoral reform and its implementation.