After the COVID-19 pandemic scuttled WCF plans to host its 2020 meeting in Bogota, organisers had hoped to convene this year in Brussels, but with the persistent uncertainty surrounding international travel, the decision was made early on to keep the Partnership Meeting online for another year.
Our event is aimed to be inclusive -- Alexander Ferguson, Vice President, Communications & Membership, WCF.
“Our event is aimed to be inclusive so that we have farmers and people from origin countries, so the problem with a physical event in Brussels was that some attendees may have to quarantine for two weeks, say, and that would make it impossible to get them there,” says Alexander Ferguson, Vice President, Communications & Membership, WCF.
“That would make the event not inclusive enough and that is the real reason for cancelling it as a live event.”
Last year’s online event attracted 400 participants, from 32 countries and six continents – and Ferguson says the WCF is hoping to pull in a similar reach again, but he is “cognisant that we are in the second year of online events – and there has been a lot of them.”
Ferguson told ConfectioneryNews that the WCF has a strong and interesting programme in 2021 and the theme this year is: ‘Overcoming Challenges Together’, which, he says “is a reflection of the continuing disruption we face from COVID, and the idea we are linked across borders from the cocoa farmer to the consumer.”
This year’s WCF Partnership Meeting will also be the first one with new WCF President Martin Short, who joined the Washington-based organisation in September.
In his first week in the role he took an interest in shaping the agenda – and it will be the first time he speaks to this group.
Short is still finalising his opening speech, but he is expected to mention that he wants one of the priorities of the WCF to be improving the plight of the cocoa farmer – in respect of earning a living wage.
“He’s taking a good look at WCF and what it needs to do in terms of strategy in advancing sustainability in the cocoa sector more quickly,” said Ferguson, “so it will be an opportunity for him to share his initial understandings of the sector and some of the principles he wants to work by.”
Difficult questions facing the cocoa sector will be raised in various sessions, including one of the first sessions: Can All Cocoa Farmers Earn a Living Income? With speakers Alex Assanvo, Antonie Fountain, Anna Laven, Cathy Pieters, Yuca Waarts promising to make it a lively debate.
High-profile speakers at this year’s online event include: Aarti Kapoor, a global leader on the elimination of child labour; Conseil du Café-Cacao executive director Yves Brahima Koné; the European Parliament's Heidi Hautala and European Commission's Koen Doens and the ICCO's Michel Arrion , who will be talking on supply management.
Ferguson says the Partnership meeting will be a robust, frank honest two days of discussions, facilitated by a state-of-the-art platform with new interactive features and enhanced virtual networking opportunities.
- Register here to join the World Cocoa Foundation 2021 Partnership Meeting online.