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The Cocoa and Forests Initiative Action Plan

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The governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana and the world’s leading cocoa and chocolate companies signed landmark agreements in November 2017 to end deforestation and promote forest restoration and protection in the cocoa supply chain. 

This new public-private partnership – called the Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI) – has been organized by the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), IDH - the Sustainable Trade Initiative, and The Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit (ISU). The Prince of Wales launched CFI in March 2017 in London.

The Frameworks for Action for Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana define core commitments, verifiable actions, and timebound targets required for a deforestation-free and forest-positive supply chain. 

The Governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana play a critical leadership role in establishing the national strategy, enabling policy environment, and governance structure for CFI implementation. They ensure that CFI is linked to similar initiatives with other commodities, and fully aligned with the national REDD+ Strategy and other relevant national strategies and plans. They provide key operational guidance, and baseline economic, environmental, and social data, to help companies identify and plan the most effective and efficient private investment activities for CFI. 

The Governments have prepared comprehensive national implementation plans (Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana) that outline key public sector priorities, actions and timelines, following extensive consultation with all stakeholders. During the first year of CFI, the Governments have launched work on the key building blocks for successful CFI implementation, including important revisions to the legal framework for sustainable forest management, preparation of up-to-date boundary maps of protected areas, and collection of socio-economic and land use data for the priority investment areas. 

Thirty-three companies, accounting for about 85% of global cocoa usage, have now joined CFI. Each company has agreed to prepare a detailed individual action plan that spells out the specific actions it will take in 2018-2022 to deliver the commitments set out in the Framework. Each company will decide for itself how to best support the achievement of the Framework objectives, based on their role in the supply chain, their corporate strategic priorities, and their cocoa sustainability goals. 

Almost all companies have now completed initial action plans. These initial plans will be updated and finalized in 2019 after the governments have completed the ongoing legal and operational policy changes, the mapping of protected areas, baseline data collection, and other building blocks needed for full investment programming. 

Given their unique role in the cocoa supply chain, the three retailer companies collaborated on the development of a common action plan.  They agreed on collective actions to deliver on their CFI commitments through their engagement with trading partners and suppliers.

CFI has been supported by several global development partners, including the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the Global Environment Facility, and the Green Commodities Program of the United Nations Development Program.

CFI is coordinated closely with a wide range of global and local environmental organizations and partnerships, including the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020, Amsterdam Declaration Partnership, Partnerships for Forests, the Rainforest Alliance, and World Resources Institute.



The Frameworks are structed around three critical themes of (1) forest protection and restoration, (2) sustainable production and farmers’ livelihoods, and (3) community engagement and social inclusion.

The first priority is the protection and restoration of forests that have been degraded. To this end, the governments and companies have pledged no further conversion of forest land for cocoa production, and have committed to the phased elimination of illegal cocoa production and sourcing in protected areas.

Both countries are introducing a differentiated approach for improved management of forest reserves, based on the level of degradation of forests. Up-to-date maps on forest cover and land-use, socio-economic data on cocoa farmers, and detailed operational guidelines covering forest management and land-use are being developed and will be publicly disclosed.

To ensure effective implementation and monitoring of these commitments, companies have pledged to develop verifiable monitoring systems for traceability from farm to the first purchase point for their own purchases of cocoa, and to work with governments to ensure an effective national framework for traceability encompassing all traders in the supply chain.

The next critical priority is sustainable agricultural production and increased farmer incomes. These are essential pre-requisites for reducing pressure for agricultural encroachment into forests and strengthening the resilience of cocoa farmers to climate change.

The governments and companies have agreed to accelerate investment in long-term productivity of cocoa in order to grow “more cocoa on less land.” Key actions include: provision of improved planting materials, training in good agricultural practices, soil fertility, land tenure reform, and capacity building of farmers’ organizations. Sustainable livelihoods and income diversification for cocoa farmers will be accelerated through food crop diversification, agricultural inter-cropping, and development of mixed agro-forestry systems and shade-grown cocoa.

The final area of focus is strong community engagement and social inclusion, with a particular focus on women and youth. The governments and companies have committed to full and effective consultation and participation of cocoa farmers in the design and implementation of key actions, and promotion of community-based management models for forest protection and restoration. The governments will assess and mitigate the social impacts and risks of any proposed land-use changes on affected communities.

The set of public-private actions represent unprecedented commitments on forest protection and restoration, and sustainable cocoa production and farmer livelihoods. These combined actions, which are aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement, will play a crucial role in sequestering carbon stocks and thereby addressing global and local climate change.



Whittaker’s, a family-owned chocolate manufacturer based in New Zealand, proudly supports the Cocoa and Forests Initiative (CFI). Becoming a signatory to the CFI builds on our existing commitments to sustainable sourcing, and we welcome the accountability that the CFI will demand of the industry as a whole.

We believe that international coordination and partnership are key to achieving the goals of the CFI. We are very pleased to be part of a global community of chocolate producers who are committed to sustainable cocoa production.

In the context of the CFI’s focus on the action that signatory companies will take to give effect to this initiative, the specific commitments we make in Ghana are:


  • 100% cocoa beans to be certified as ethically sourced by 2021. 
  • 100% cocoa beans to be traceable from farm level to our manufacturing plant by 2025, enabled by fully mapping our supplier chain within that same timeframe.
  • Only selecting suppliers and partners whose practices are in line with CFI commitments.


Whittaker’s focus in respect of the above commitments is Ghana where we source all of our cocoa beans apart from some specialist single origin beans. 

We endorse the CFI’s focus on working with the predominately small cocoa farmers in Ghana to protect their livelihoods through better resource use, while protecting and restoring forests. We believe this approach best positions the initiative for lasting success, based on our experience of providing the same kind of support directly to our specialist cocoa supplier in Samoa. 

As a relatively small company among the other signatories to the CFI, we rely on our supply and certification partners, and CFI-driven government action, to make progress against the CFI commitments in Ghana. 

The influence we can have is to publicly endorse the CFI, as is reflected by becoming a signatory, and to hold our supply chain partners to account. We do this because we share the vision of a global cocoa industry that is robustly ethical, traceable and accountable.