European Commission launches Sustainable Cocoa Initiative and is ‘ready to act’

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

The European Commission has launched its Sustainable Cocoa Initiative, report expected in 2021. Pic: EU/EC
The European Commission has launched its Sustainable Cocoa Initiative, report expected in 2021. Pic: EU/EC

Related tags Cocoa Sustainability

The Sustainable Cocoa Initiative is a new multi-stakeholder dialogue that brings together representatives of Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana – the two main cocoa producing countries accounting for 70% of global cocoa production – as well as representatives of the European Parliament, EU Member States, cocoa growers and civil society.

The Commission said its new initiative for sustainable cocoa is part of a broader set of the EC's measures to address sustainability issues horizontally and within the sector. They include a policy dialogue with Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana to make sure that increase of prices is linked to actions halting deforestation and eliminating child labour in cocoa supply chains.

A plenary session took place in Brussels on Tuesday (22 September) to begin a dialogue that aims to deliver concrete recommendations to advance sustainability across the cocoa supply chain through collective action and partnerships. The new dialogue will be supported by technical assistance for cocoa producing countries.

Executive Vice-President and acting Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said: “The cocoa sector is important for the EU and our trading partners. Today's launch of the multi-stakeholder dialogue for sustainable cocoa will help to guide the sector's recovery from Covid-19, while also finding solutions to existing sustainability challenges. We plan to develop concrete recommendations on sustainable cocoa as trade is not only about growth and profits, but also the social and environmental impact of our policies​.”

Political priorities

The Sustainable Cocoa Initiative is part of the European Commission’s political priorities, which include the European Green Deal and a zero tolerance approach on child labour, and aims to complement Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana’s joint initiative, announced in June 2019, on a minimum price for cocoa (the Living Income Differential) on the world market and to trigger further progress on key sustainability issues in the cocoa sector in the longer term.

Its wider remit will be to support the elimination of child labour and child trafficking, the protection and restorations of forests, and to ensure a living income for cocoa farmers.

More EC meetings of the groups/sub-groups will take place between October 2020 and July 2021, followed by a plenary session in autumn 2021. After the plenary session, a public report will take stock of the work, summarise recommendations and provide suggestions on the way forward.

The multi-stakeholder dialogue will discuss topics including:

  • ways to encourage responsible practices of EU businesses involved in cocoa supply chains
  • feed into other relevant ongoing Commission initiatives, including on due diligence and deforestation
  • feed into the policy discussions between the EU and the involved cocoa producing countries: Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana
  • guide the European Commission in the design and deployment of support projects on sustainable cocoa production

When we talk about cocoa, sustainability is key” ​said Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships. “Lifting up the three pillars of sustainable development in one go – social, economic and environmental – is possible. We stand ready to act as an honest broker to create the foundation of a new international framework for sustainable cocoa​.”

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