- On July 17, Colombia signed up to the Cocoa and Forests Initiative, an effort that aims to achieve deforestation-free cocoa production, becoming the first Latin American country to make this commitment.
- One of the country’s largest chocolate manufacturing companies, Casa Luker, and the members of the National Cocoa Federation have also joined Colombia in this pledge.
- The Colombian government has been working to boost cocoa production to improve the country’s competitiveness as a cocoa producer internationally and is looking at cocoa as a potential replacement for crops like coca, the plant used to make cocaine.
The government of Colombia has committed to ending deforestation in its cocoa supply chain by 2020. The National Cocoa Federation and one of the country’s largest chocolate producers, Casa Luker, have also joined Colombia in this commitment.
On July 17, Colombia signed up to the Cocoa and Forests Initiative, an effort that works toward achieving deforestation-free cocoa production. By doing so, it became the first Latin American country and the third country in the world, after Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, to make this commitment.
The Cocoa and Forests Initiative is led by the World Cocoa Foundation, a Washington-D.C.-based non-profit whose members include Nestlé and Mars; Netherlands-based Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH); and The Prince’s International Sustainability Unit, part of The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation in the U.K. The initiative is supported by several organizations, including the U.S.-based think tank World Resources Institute (WRI), which is providing support through its Global Forest Watch platform that monitors forest cover.
“In a market characterized by a growing interest in zero-deforestation cocoa, with a positive story to tell about forests and peace, we hope Colombia’s signing up to the Cocoa and Forests Initiative will encourage greater interest and investment in the Colombian cocoa supply chain,” Juan Guillermo Zuluaga, Colombia’s minister of agriculture, said in a press release.
Colombia currently accounts for just 1 percent of global cocoa production. But the government has been working with the private sector to boost cocoa production to improve the country’s competitiveness as a cocoa producer internationally and cater to worldwide demand for cocoa. The government has also been promoting cocoa cultivation as a potential replacement for illicit crops like coca, the plant used to make cocaine.
While Colombia’s cocoa industry is growing, the country’s green cover appears to be shrinking. According to the latest data from WRI’s Global Forest Watch, Colombia faced one of the most drastic losses of tree cover in the world, suffering nearly 4,250 square kilometers (1,640 square miles) of tree cover loss in 2017, a 46 percent jump over the loss in 2016.
By joining the Cocoa and Forests initiative, the Colombian government, the signatory cocoa companies and the National Cocoa Federation have agreed to a Framework for Action, committing to ensure that no more forest land is converted for cocoa production. The framework consists of 11 core commitments, which include preventing deforestation and forest degradation; promoting the conservation of protected areas; respecting the rights of cocoa farmers and minimizing adverse social and economic impacts; monitoring and reporting on the progress on commitments; ensuring transparency and accountability; and providing support to sustainable markets for cocoa products.
“The National Cocoa Federation represents the interests of the tens of thousands of smallholder cocoa farmers from across our country,” Eduard Baquero López, president of the National Cocoa Federation, said in the statement. “There are many inspiring examples of cocoa production leading to forest protection and restoration; we wish to gain greater global market access for Colombia’s cocoa, which has such a distinctive quality and which is rare in contributing both to forest protection and to the peace. We hope the global consumer will come to enjoy their chocolate even more when they learn it protects the forests and delivers the peace!”
Andrew Steer, CEO of WRI, added: “We are delighted that Colombia has joined the Cocoa and Forests Initiative. This is precisely the kind of public-private partnership that will help deliver on Colombia’s peace process and the sustainable development goals.”