The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) and the Ghana Forestry Commission (GFC) have reached an agreement to align the Ghana Cocoa Forest REDD+ Program (GCFRP) and the Cocoa & Forests Initiative in order to achieve zero deforestation. Stakeholders in the cocoa sector have also declared to work together to conserve and restore forests in cocoa-growing areas.
The Memorandum of Understanding commits the two parties to work in six regions the government has prioritized for forest protection and restoration. Works in the hotspot intervention areas have already started for the Asunafo-Asutifi, Bia-Juaboso, Kakum and Sefwi-Bibiani landscape areas.
“This partnership represents a phenomenal collaboration with the private sector to ambitiously contribute to real and verifiable emission reductions in Ghana’s precious forest landscapes….
“The GCFRP is already achieving significant impacts with inclusive governance arrangements. The GFC encourages other like-minded institutions to strategically partner with the program for visible impact at scale.”John Allotey, the Chief Executive of GFC.
On his part, Richard Scobey, WCF’s President said his outfit partnered GFC with the aim “to accelerate the journey towards forest positive cocoa.” He added that ending cocoa-related deforestation requires all stakeholders to work together. Thus, he called on cocoa and chocolate companies to strengthen their collaboration with the government towards the fight against deforestation.
Under the agreement, GFC will facilitate the development of strategic initiatives and ensure stronger monitoring on social and environmental issues. WCF will also support monitoring and evaluation, innovation and private-public learning. WCF is also responsible for convening the actions of the 35 cocoa and chocolate companies that have signed the Cocoa & Forests Initiative.
The Cocoa & Forest Initiative
Deforestation is a major issue in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, which together produce nearly two-thirds of the world’s supply of cocoa. Ghana’s cocoa forest landscape has one of the highest deforestation rates in Africa, at 3.2% per year.
The Cocoa & Forest initiative is a public-private partnership to end cocoa-related deforestation and forest degradation and promote forest restoration. This partnership involves 35 cocoa and chocolate companies, governments and cocoa-growing communities. Other stakeholders like farmer organizations and civil society organizations collaborate on the development and implementation of business-driven solutions to deforestation.
In 2020, cocoa and chocolate companies achieved major strides towards 2022 Cocoa & Forests Initiative targets. For example, the companies distributed over 4 million tree seedlings to farmers in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to help them develop agroforestry systems and reforest degraded forests. The Cocoa & Forests Initiative helps to achieve Sustainable Development Goals 13 (Climate Action) and 15 (Life on Land).
The Ghana Cocoa Forest REDD+ Program (GCFRP)
The GCFRP is the world’s first commodity-driven emission reductions program led by GFC and the Ghana Cocoa Board. The program covers 5.9 million hectares of the cocoa-forest mosaic landscape. The goal is to significantly reduce deforestation and forest degradation over a twenty-year period in a phased implementation approach. Activities include promoting climate-smart cocoa production, landscape level land-use planning, strategic tree tenure reforms and forest rehabilitation interventions.
The program will significantly deliver enhancements in ecosystem resilience, increase in farmers’ yields. It will also generate multiple livelihood benefits underpinned by robust, transparent and inclusive governance structure.