Melia Manter

Cocoa Accountability Map 2.0 Webinar

Cocoa Accountability Map 2.0 Webinar

July 31, 2020

Mighty Earth recently hosted a webinar for the launch of our Cocoa Accountability Map 2.0 as part of our effort to trigger a transparency and traceability revolution in the cocoa sector. Our updated Cocoa Accountability Map now has land use information for all of Côte d’Ivoire, new supply chain information, and better cocoa cooperative data.

This webinar brought together mapping and deforestation experts from across the globe. The webinar provided a rare opportunity for these experts, with similar goals, to engage with one another and provide updates on what they are doing.

Most importantly, it gave us a chance to showcase that mapping is happening in the cocoa sector. Mapping is already a reality despite efforts of government agencies and certain companies to slow or stop the trend. High quality mapping of cocoa and deforestation for cocoa is possible, real, and tangible – though unfortunately up to this point has yet to be led or coordinated in any substantial way by the Cocoa & Forest Initiative.

Traceability of supply chains is also evolving in cocoa. With notable exceptions of Ferrero/Nutella, Blommer/Fuji Oil, and Mondelez/Cadbury, most major cocoa traders and chocolate manufacturing companies have disclosed or are in the process of disclosing their direct supply chains in Côte d’Ivoire.

However, collaboration and leadership will be key to put this mapping and traceability information into good use. Speakers in the webinar evoked the leitmotif that mapping and traceability data must be concretely used for action on the ground, to finally put an end to deforestation and other abuses in cocoa.

The featured speakers were:

For more information, please check out the presentation slides and additional questions and answers from the webinar.

The Cocoa Accountability Map will continue to be updated with more information and a more user-friendly interface from now until the fall. Look out for Mighty Earth’s Cocoa Accountability Map 3.0  and mapping webinar happening in October.

Consumer Brands Set Precedent by Suspending Samling Group

As the notorious timber and palm oil conglomerate Samling Group continues to destroy rainforests, Mighty Earth’s new scorecard reveals that many consumer brands like Nestlé and Unilever have taken action to suspend the group from their palm oil supply chains 

These actions could signal a new trend of adopting zero tolerance towards egregious groups that continue to engage in deforestation, peatland destruction and exploitation of vulnerable forest-dependent communities. However, urgent action is needed to close out markets for other rainforest destroyers like Samling. 

Our Rapid Response Deforestation Monitoring system uses satellite imagery to detect new instances of deforestation and peatland development across palm oil and timber plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia. The system identified at least 3,420 hectares of deforestation since August 2017 within Samling’s concessions in Sarawak, Malaysia. This is one of the largest amounts of deforestation by any single group detected by Rapid Response over the past three yearsFurthermore, the company has a long history of egregious human rights abuses.  

Therefore, buying palm oil from Samling constitutes a serious violation of the No-Deforestation, No-Peat and No-Exploitation (NDPE) policies that many of the world’s largest consumer brands have adopted. Mighty Earth reviewed the publicly available palm oil mill lists of these brands and contacted 17 companies that disclosed supply chain links to Samling. 

More than half of the 17 brands have taken the progressive step of instructing their suppliers to suspend Samling, earning an “A” score. These companies include Colgate-Palmolive, Danone, FrieslandCampina, Hershey’s, Nestlé, PZ Cussons, Reckitt Benckiser, Unilever and Upfield. 

By issuing a clear suspension instruction to their direct suppliers, these brands have taken a preventative stance on purging Samling palm oil from their supply chains. These suspensions block potential points of leakage from other companies that continue to source from Samling, such as BLD Plantation (part of the KTS Group), even though the company has adopted an NDPE policy. They also ensure that brands are not reliant on their direct suppliers – palm oil traders – to maintain suspensions themselves on rogue palm oil producers and sends a much stronger signal upstream that noncompliant producers will not have access to the NDPE markets. 

An example of an “A score from a brand is: We have communicated the suspension of direct / indirect supply from this group until further investigations and corrective actions are taken.” 

Many other brands have failed to issue a clear directive to all suppliers to suspend Samling but have engaged with their palm oil suppliers to ensure Samling palm oil is not entering their supply chains, receiving a “B.” These companies are General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s, Mars, P&G and PepsiCo 

An example of a “B” score from a brand is: We identified potential links through several of our direct suppliers. We reached out to all suppliers with potential links to Samling and confirmed that all have either suspended or will not engage Samling in their supply chains.” 

Avon and Mondelēz International have failed to respond to Mighty Earth’s repeated emails, earning an “F.”  

In total, 88% of brands in our scorecard have taken varying levels of action to expel Samling palm oil from their supply chains. Notably, these consumer brands acted largely as a result of the evidence of Samling’s ongoing deforestation for timber plantations rather than for palm oil production Doing so demonstrates that brands have begun to understand the need to implement a group-level, cross-commodity approach to eradicating deforestation from their supply chain. For true transformational change, brands should exclude groups from their supply chains that continue to engage in deforestation and human rights abuses, regardless of what commodity was the driver of the violations.  In the end, the profits from commercial purchases go to the group’s owners or beneficiaries, who use them to continue their destructive practices and/or expand their business.  

However, more action is needed. Samling continues to destroy rainforest and has not adopted a group-wide NDPE policy or committed to remediate past destruction and abuses. Other tycoon-owned Sarawak logging and palm oil conglomerates such as Rimbunan Hijau Group and Shin Yang Group continue to clear rainforest in Sarawak and are still in the supply chains of major palm oil traders and consumer brands.   

The Samling case illustrates the value of transparency.  Based on companies’ public mill lists, Mighty Earth was able to communicate with key buyers of Samling and enable them to take action.  Those brands whose supply chains remain hidden from public view remain at severe risk of having rogue actors like Samling lurking in their supply chains. They cannot guarantee consumers that they have proper due diligence processes in place to eliminate deforestation and human rights violations from their supply chains.  For example, brands such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Starbucks and Yum Brands! have refused to release any publicly available information about the mills that they’re sourcing their palm oil from.   

Until consumer brands commit to true traceability, transparency and implementation of their NDPE policies, palm oil from unethical suppliers like Samling will continue to infiltrate the supply chains of many of the brands we know and love.  

Consumer Brand



Note to Readers
Our scoring rubric for evaluating company actions in response to Samling’s record was as follows:

A: Full Suspension
Company has communicated a “no-buy” requirement to their palm oil suppliers to ensure Samling is excluded from their supply chains

B: Partial Suspension
Company has not issued a formal “no-buy” requirement; however, the company has taken other significant action to ensure Samling palm oil is excluded from their supply chain

C: Engagement
Company is engaging their suppliers on the issue of Samling

F: No response
Company has not responded to Mighty Earth’s emails

Une coalition historique pour le Cacao Durable au Ghana et en Côte d’Ivoire

Read in English

Déclaration Commune de 350 ONG ivoiriennes qui soutiennent l’initiative du Gouvernement visant à garantir un revenu suffisant aux planteurs et à protéger les forêts

ABIDJAN, CÔTE D'IVOIRE – Aujourd’hui, 350 ONG environnementales, des droits humains et de bonne gouvernance signent une déclaration collective qui souligne les étapes que les gouvernements ghanéen et ivoirien doivent prendre pour promouvoir un cacao durable, tout en aidant les paysans et en protégeant les forêts.

Les signataires, au nombre desquels l’Observatoire Ivoirien pour la gestion durable des Ressources Naturelles (OI-REN), La Convention de la Société Civile Ivoirienne (CSCI), l’Institut Africain pour le Développement Économique et Social (INADES) et certaines coalitions importantes comme le Regroupement des Acteurs Ivoirien des Droits de l'Homme (RAIDH) soutiennent la mise en œuvre d’un prix plancher annoncé par les gouvernements du Ghana et de la Côte d’Ivoire. Ils demandent, par contre, la garantie que le nouveau prix plancher fournira des revenus additionnels aux paysans, sans pour autant accroitre la déforestation. La lettre fait écho aux appels précédents pour un prix plancher bien géré des sociétés civiles du Ghana, du Cameroun, de l’Union Européenne et des Etats-Unis. La déclaration commune souligne que l’implémentation de cette initiative est devenue plus urgente à cause de la pandémie mondiale du coronavirus qui amplifie la pauvreté et perturbe l’économie.

“La société civile s’unit pour se battre pour le cacao durable,” dit Amourlaye Touré, le Représentant de Mighty Earth en Afrique de l’Ouest. “ Un prix plancher pour le cacao est une étape importante mais les gouvernements doivent maintenant assurer que l’industrie va effectivement payer les prix indiqués et que les fonds levés par cette initiative iront vraiment aux paysans qui reçoivent actuellement moins d’un dollar par jour.”

La déclaration commune des ONG souligne qu’il importe, afin de prévenir d’éventuels détournements, que les revenus générés par le prix plancher soient gérés de façon transparente, avec des avantages pour les paysans appauvris. En Côte d’Ivoire, notamment, l’agence responsable de la gestion des aires protégées n’a pas toujours été sans reproche en matière de corruption ; des problèmes similaires affectent les autorités ghanéennes qui sont responsables de la régulation de la déforestation. Selon la Banque Mondiale, comme signalé par Reuters, “La corruption et la mauvaise gestion de l’industrie du cacao au Ghana nuisent à la production et fragilise les paysans, mettant en lumière le besoin urgent de réformes.”

La nouvelle déclaration commune met également les gouvernements ivoirien et ghanéen face à leurs responsabilités en ce qu’ils doivent s’assurer que le prix plancher ne déclenche pas une vague de déforestation dans un environnement naturel déjà dévasté. En effet, la Côte d’Ivoire et le Ghana ont les taux les plus élevés de déforestation dans le monde ! Les deux pays ont perdu environ 90 pour cent de leurs forêts, depuis leur indépendance, dont un tiers du fait du cacao.

“Généralement, quand le prix d’un produit augmente, la déforestation s’accroît également. Les deux gouvernements doivent agir maintenant et mettre à exécution le mécanisme de surveillance conjoint, comme ils l’avaient promis en 2017 dans le cadre de l’Initiative Cacao et Forêts (ICF),” affirme le représentant de Mighty Earth. “ Des progrès réels ont été accomplis dans la lutte contre la déforestation. Le Ghana et la Côte d’Ivoire sont parvenus à réduire la perte de forêts primaires de 50 pour cent, de 2018 à 2019. Il ne faut donc montrer aucune complaisance.”

La société civile fait aussi pression pour un nouvel engagement à respecter les droits des petits planteurs de cacao qui sont particulièrement vulnérables. Le nouveau code forestier annoncé l’an dernier résulterait en l’éviction de milliers de petits paysans. Il est estimé que 1.5 à 2 millions de planteurs de cacao vivent dans des forêts protégées et des parcs nationaux au Ghana et en Côte d’Ivoire. Bien que le gouvernement de Côte d’Ivoire ait le droit de récupérer les forêts destinées à être conservées, la loi internationale protège contre les expulsions forcées qui ne respectent pas la dignité et les droits des personnes vivant sur ces sites.

Enfin, la déclaration commune fait remarquer que des efforts supplémentaires sont nécessaires pour mettre fin au travail des enfants dans l’industrie du cacao.

La pandémie due au coronavirus a aggravé certaines difficultés existantes. Un nombre plus grand de paysans ont du mal à subvenir à leurs besoins vitaux et le travail des enfants ne recule pas à cause de la crise économique qui s’intensifie. “Il faut que le prix plancher du cacao soit bien géré afin de protéger les moyens de subsistance des producteurs et pour renforcer les progrès constatés au cours des dernières années pour un cacao durable.”


Historic Coalition Speaks Out for Sustainable Cocoa in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire

Version française ici

Joint Declaration by 350 different NGOs calls for government action to support farmers and protect forests

ABIDJAN, CÔTE D'IVOIRE – Today, 350 environmental, human rights, and good governance NGOs joined a historic letter outlining steps that the Ghanaian and Ivorian governments must take encourage sustainable cocoa while supporting farmers and protecting forests.

The signatories, which include an Ivorian research institute (INADES) and key 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), specifically support the implementation of a floor price for cocoa as announced by the governments of Ghana and Ivory Coast but call for additional safeguards to ensure the new price floor provides income to cocoa farmers without incentivizing additional deforestation. The letter echoes earlier calls for a well-managed price floor from civil society organizations in Ghana, Cameroon, and the EU and US. The joint declaration further highlights that these issues have taken on added urgency as the global coronavirus pandemic exacerbates poverty and disrupts the economy.

“Civil society is coming together to fight for sustainable cocoa,” said Amourlaye Touré, Mighty Earth’s West Africa Representative. “A cocoa price floor is an important step, but the governments must now ensure that industry actually pays the mandated price and that the new funds raised from this initiative actually make it back to the cocoa farmers – many of whom are surviving on less than a dollar a day.”

The joint statement from the NGOs stresses the importance of preventing possible diversions and says that the revenue generated by the price floor must be managed transparently, with benefits accruing to impoverished farmers. In Côte d’Ivoire, the agency responsible for managing Protected Areas has not always been blameless for corruption; similar problems affect Ghanaian authorities with jurisdiction over deforestation for cocoa as well. According to the World Bank, as reported by Reuters, “Corruption and regulatory mismanagement of Ghana’s cocoa industry are hurting production and harming farmers, underlining the need for reform.”

The new Joint Declaration challenges the Ivorian and Ghanaian governments to ensure that the floor price does not trigger a wave of new deforestation in an already devastated landscape. Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana have had some of the historically highest rates of deforestation in the world. Both countries have lost approximately 90 percent of their forests since independence, with about one-third of that loss driven by cocoa.

“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,” said the Mighty Earth representative. “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 complacent.”

Civil society also pushed for new commitments to respect for the rights of vulnerable smallholder cocoa producers. A new forestry policy announced last year will likely 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 neighboring Ghana. Although the Ivorian government has the right to reclaim forests intended for conservation, international law protects anyone who occupies land from forced evictions that do not respect the dignity and rights of those affected, regardless of where they are living.

Finally, the Joint Declaration notes that more must be done to address child labor in the industry.

“The coronavirus pandemic has compounded existing problems – more farmers are going hungry and child labor is skyrocketing as the economic impacts worsen,” said Touré. ”We need a well-managed cocoa floor price to protect people’s livelihoods and consolidate the gains we have made in recent years for sustainable cocoa.”