Cocoa stakeholders agree sustainability action plan

By Sarah Hills

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Sustainability, Sustainable development

Representatives of the cocoa industry from across the world have agreed on a framework to achieve a sustainable cocoa economy and plan to set up a sustainability fund to help benefit producers.

The second Roundtable for a Sustainable Cocoa Economy, which took place in Trinidad and Tobago, involved about 300 participants from producer groups to processors, chocolate manufacturers and government organisation, representing 29 countries.

The outcome was the ‘Trinidad and Tobago Declaration’ which outlines the way forward to a sustainable cocoa economy, including guidelines for best known practices in the cocoa value chain and a Cocoa Sustainability Fund.

Sustainability in the cocoa industry is a major issue for all involved from cocoa farmers to chocolate manufacturers. Confectioners are under pressure from high commodity costs so protecting the supply is vital to maintaining margins.

The declaration says that an expert working group will be set up to study the feasibility of establishing such the fund, which would provide “additional direct and timely financing”​ of projects and programmes in the cocoa sector, primarily for the benefit of producers.

It said that the fund should also support the use of non-financial measures to support producers and there should be closer cooperation and coordination at national level between the public sector and private sector stakeholders to enhance the development of the cocoa sector.

Accra Agenda

The roundtable also reviewed progress in implementing the Accra Agenda, which sprang out of the first roundtable meeting in Accra, Ghana, in October 2007, and was initiated by the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO).

The Accra Agenda underlies three principles – or 'three pillars’ of sustainable development - for the cocoa industry to work towards, which are environmental, economic and social.

The declaration said: “It was recognized that the Accra Agenda had raised awareness on the need to work towards a sustainable cocoa economy and had made considerable progress in that direction by establishing priority areas of action towards a sustainable cocoa economy.

However participants in the second roundtable expressed “the strong wish to reach agreement on the way forward to better implement the priority areas of action contained in the Accra Agenda”.

Plan of action

The Roundtable discussed a draft document called Guidelines on Best Known Practices in the Cocoa Value Chain but noted that this should be further improved by widening its scope to include all stages such as processing, manufacturing, retailing and consumption.

Participants also agreed to continue the process initiated in Accra and to hold a third Roundtable for a Sustainable Cocoa Economy in the Netherlands, at a time yet to be determined.

The Trinidad and Tobago roundtable took place on 24-26 March and was supported by the governments of Côte d’Ivoire, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Trinidad and Tobago as well as the International Cocoa Organization.

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