More than 300 environmental, good-governance and human rights NGOs have signed a letter (note, the letter is in French) outlining steps that Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire’s governments should take in order to encourage sustainable cocoa production while supporting farmers and protecting forests.
The signatories include an Ivorian research institute (INADES) and coalitions such as the Ivorian Civil Society Convention (CSCI), the Ivorian Observatory on Sustainable Management of Natural Resources (OIREN), and the Coalition of Ivorian Human Rights Actors (RAIDH).
As announced by the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, these signatories support the implementation of a floor price for cocoa. Safeguards are required to ensure the new strategy provides income to cocoa farmers without incentivising further deforestation.
Historically, Côte d’Ivoire has one of the highest deforestation records in the world and has already lost around 90% of their forests since independence. About 30% of the deforestation has been attributed to Cocoa farming.
The letter repeats earlier requests for a well-managed floor price from civil society organisations in Ghana, Cameroon, the EU and the U.S. The joint declaration emphasises these issues have taken on added importance as the global COVID-19 pandemic increases poverty and disrupts the economy.
The NGOs emphasise the importance of preventing possible diversions and refers to issues of systemic corruption in the industry. They continue to recommend that the revenue generated by the floor price must be managed transparently.
In Côte d’Ivoire, the organisation responsible for managing Protected Areas has not always been innocent for corruption, and similar problems affect Ghanaian authorities with jurisdiction over deforestation for cocoa.
The new Joint Declaration challenges both governments to ensure that the floor price does not trigger a wave of further deforestation.
Typically, when a commodity price goes up, deforestation also goes up. The governments must act now to implement the joint monitoring mechanisms they promised to build in 2017 as part of the Cocoa and Forests Initiative. We’ve seen real progress in addressing deforestation – Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire both saw primary forest loss decrease by 50 percent from 2018 to 2019 – but now is not the time to get complacentAmourlaye Touré, Mighty Earth’s West Africa representative
CSCI started new commitments to respect the rights of vulnerable smallholder cocoa producers in recognition of the authority of the Ivorian government to reclaim forests intended for conservation.
A new forestry plan announced last year could result in the evictions of thousands of small-scale cocoa farmers, with an estimated 1.5 to 2 million cocoa farmers living in protected forests and national parks in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.
Finally, the Joint Declaration notes that more must be done to put an end to child labour in the industry. As economic impacts worsen, child labour is skyrocketing.