Keeping the 1.5 degrees ambition alive through collective action

Gerry Manley, CEO of ofi cocoa and Chief Sustainability Officer of ofi

 

At last year’s COP26 climate summit, promises were made by governments and companies to go further and faster to tackle climate change. Now, as we reach the midpoint of COP27, the focus is on how to turn commitment into action and keep the 1.5 degrees climate ambition alive. 

 

For many in the cocoa sector, doing so remains a challenge – even without the added difficulties of inflation and supply chain disruption. But there is a significant prize to be won. The chocolate & confectionery market is growing at pace, as is consumer appetite for simple ingredients with ethical credentials. In fact, we predict another one million tons of cocoa is required in the next decade to fuel demand. This is a huge opportunity to channel growth in a healthier way for farmers, landscapes and consumers.

To seize the opportunity, we need to help farmers grow a greater supply of good quality, sustainable cocoa without needing to cut down trees. And that means focusing on three critical areas – working with farmers, rethinking the supply chain and collaborating across borders.

 

 

1. Working with farmers

 

Keeping on a 1.5-degree pathway will only be possible if it delivers for everyone, especially farmers who depend on healthy ecosystems for their livelihoods.

 

Low productivity, small farmers lacking land tenure security, costly inputs and limited access to microfinance are just a few of the reasons why many farmers struggle to live on what they make for their cocoa crop, prompting some to encroach into forests. To help reverse this trend, we must stop climate-friendly farming techniques becoming an additional burden for farmers. That means being on the ground where cocoa is grown, listening and providing support tailored to the local context. 

 

A timely example of this is through a five-year project under the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate). Working closely with USAID, The Rainforest Alliance and local communities, we will help farmers in Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire grow forest and fruit trees within their cocoa farms, known as agroforestry, with additional planting alongside their farms and in less suitable cocoa growing areas. This approach aims to protect and restore precious forest habitats, increase carbon storage in and around cocoa farms, and work towards closing the income gap for cocoa farming households. 

 

 

2. Rethinking value chains

 

The work doesn’t stop with farmers. The cocoa industry can also do things differently from within, from tackling scope 1 & 2 emissions to educating and engaging consumers on why they should buy more sustainable confectionery and chocolate.

 

For example, at ofi we achieved an 11% reduction in our emissions per metric ton of cocoa ingredient produced last year in our processing facilities by installing circular biomass boilers powered by waste cocoa shells and switching to green electricity in several sites. And we’ve adopted a natural capital accounting model, assigning a monetary value to natural resources like forests and healthy soil to make sure we consider the impact of operational decision-making on the natural world.

 

We have a role to play through product development and storytelling too. Together with our customers, we can help chocolate lovers to better understand how cocoa is grown and its social and environmental credentials, as well as capture their attention with products using ingredients that win on both taste and sustainability.

 

 

3. Collaborating at scale

 

No one company can act alone. Companies, governments and civil society must all come together to drive the international collaboration and regulation needed to rise to the challenge of our age.

 

The Cocoa & Forests Initiative illustrates how engaging stakeholders on an agreed framework across the supply chain can propel us towards a more sustainable cocoa future. As is the Agriculture Sector Roadmap to 1.5°C, released at COP27, which represents a sector-wide plan for addressing forest loss in supply chains and accelerating collaboration with others to achieve that goal. We are proud to be a part of both.

 

We also need a coordinated policy approach by the governments of producing and consuming countries. The EU’s proposed legislation to ensure key commodities, including cocoa, are deforestation free could help to create a level playing field and build consumer confidence that commodities are produced in a sustainable way. 

 

 

Achieving 1.5 degrees

 

Systemic change requires investment, innovation and partnership at every level. So, this week’s summit is a timely reminder that we cannot lose our collective momentum on climate change. We need concerted action by all – to protect our planet, to protect farmers and communities, to protect the supply of natural, healthy and sustainable ingredients, and build a more prosperous future for generations to come.

Author

Gerry Manley | CEO of ofi cocoa and Chief Sustainability Officer of ofi