The pilot project uses Starling, a satellite monitoring tool developed by Earthworm Foundation and Airbus, to capture critical deforestation data within Fairtrade cooperatives and their smallholder cocoa farmers in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire to support these communities in better management of forest landscapes.
With the European Commission’s push to ban imports of cocoa, coffee and other commodities when production is associated with deforestation, the project will strengthen cooperatives and their smallholder members’ access to risk management data, better enabling them to maintain access to their core markets in Europe and beyond.
“We are thrilled to announce this landmark partnership that will explore how powerful data sets can be leveraged by cooperatives and their members for their own risk analysis processes and in alignment with expected government regulation against deforestation not just in the European Union but also in the United Kingdom and United States,” said Jon Walker, Senior Advisor for Cocoa at Fairtrade International.
While supportive of the need for deforestation legislation, Fairtrade has called on the European Union to ensure that all adopted measures against deforestation include fairness and social justice as core elements of legislation.
Fairtrade argued that losing access to core markets, such as the European Union, would be devastating to these impacted farmers who would still need to earn a living and may be driven to deforestation and unregulated work as a result. These unintended consequences would ultimately undermine sustainability, forest preservation, and the very intention of deforestation regulations.
Smallholder cocoa farmers
The Fairtrade-Earthworm Foundation partnership, which is expected to rollout the first deforestation alerts in the summer of 2022, will provide smallholder cocoa farmers with some of the tools needed to assist in navigating any legislative complications that threaten their livelihoods while providing a concrete measure towards preserving the environment.
“This partnership will finally direct the transfer of deforestation risk data in a meaningful way to cooperatives and their members in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana using the principles of Fair Data,” said Walker. “In this manner, we can ensure that those with the least power in supply chains have access to this critical data and can use it to improve their livelihoods and beneficially impact their communities.”
Rob McWilliam, Director of Technical Services at Earthworm Foundation, said he is excited to be working with Fairtrade International and Fairtrade Africa.
“We look forward to proving our experience and knowledge of using Starling’s land cover and forest cover change datasets to tackle deforestation and support actions for addressing environmental vulnerabilities. We are also excited to be working further with farmers and their organizations to develop fit for purpose tools to enhance their work on the ground,” he said.