By Daan Wensing, Director, Landscapes & Deforestation Related Commodities Program, IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative
Bringing commitments to action for zero net deforestation
A growing number of companies have joined the Consumer Goods Forum’s resolution to “achieve zero net deforestation by 2020”. However, a recent Greenpeace report on progress achieved by the palm oil sector, demonstrates that companies have difficulty moving from pledges to implementation. This is often because cleaning supply chains from deforestation requires finding concrete solutions to complex socio-economic situations. To meet these commitments, companies need to join forces with governments and civil society organizations, to understand and address deforestation drivers, such as: land rights, poor agricultural practices, poverty, lack of law enforcement capacity, poor forest governance and very often corruption.
Take the issue of cocoa-related deforestation in Côte d’Ivoire: the forest cover shrank from 16 million hectares in 1990 to an estimated 3.4 million hectares in 2015. The largely cocoa-related deforestation has occurred over a long period of political instability. Poverty and poor forest law enforcement has led hundreds of thousands of people to extend cocoa planting into forest reserves. The expansion of human activities in these forests has resulted in the building of infrastructures such as houses schools or dispensaries.
Protecting the remaining forest reserves in Côte d’Ivoire will require the inclusive design of land use plans that strike the balance between the diverging interests of stakeholders. This is what IDH calls the PPI approach: balancing stakeholder interests to achieve sustainable production (P), forest protection (P), and community inclusion (I).
Accelerating Production, Protection and Inclusion in the cocoa sector
The Cocoa & Forests initiative is an example of such an approach. Launched in 2017, this multi-stakeholder coalition, facilitated by IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative, the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) and the International Sustainability Unit of the Prince of Wales (ISU) has enabled top cocoa-producing countries, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, to sign joint Frameworks of Action with leading chocolate and cocoa companies. The Frameworks commit signatories to eliminate illegal cocoa production in national parks, in line with stronger enforcement of national forest policies and development of alternative livelihoods for affected farmers.
Stakeholders are now detailing their priority actions towards forest protection and restoration, sustainable production and social inclusion. These implementation plans, which take the Framework commitments forward, will be released by mid-2018. More than 50 stakeholders are engaged in this process, championed by chocolate and cocoa companies and high-level government officials, with active support of development partners, research organizations, CSOs and farmer associations.
Regional PPI initiatives taking shape on the ground, are concrete examples of PPI pilots that fit into this Framework, helping companies and government to implement their commitments, in close collaboration with local communities, CSOs, and farmer groups.
Sustainable Production, Forest Protection and Community Inclusion in the Cavally region of Côte d’Ivoire
An example is the jurisdictional landscape approach IDH has been prototyping in the Cavally region since 2015.
Inside the borders of the Cavally are the Taï National Park, listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, as well as two important forests reserves: Goin-Débé and Cavally forest. These two forest reserves have been encroached by cocoa farms, and are in need of collective governance and land use plans. Therefore, IDH has set up a multi-stakeholder collaboration process, which led to the creation of a national and a regional steering committee. These committees include key representatives from government, local communities, companies and CSOs, to ensure well informed decision-making.
Under the initiative, private sector companies, such as Barry Callebaut, Cémoi and SIAT are carrying out innovative projects, based on the promotion of agro-forestry practices and cocoa traceability. Strong partnerships have also been sealed, with support from the Ministry of Planning, with the National Office for Park and Reserves (OIPR), the Ivorian Forestry Development Corporation (SODEFOR) and the Cavally Regional Council.
In 2018, the regional committee will support the Cavally Regional Council in the development of a planning and development scheme for the region. As part of this project, IDH is collaborating with SODEFOR in Goin Débé and Cavally forest reserve to develop models for different types of forests: those that still have and need to be protected, and those with agriculture and communities inside.
In the Goin Débé forest reserve, which is severely degraded, IDH is supporting SODEFOR to conduct a census to collect socio-economic data and detailed maps of the area. This information will be used to inform future forest management plans. In the Cavally forest reserve, where the degradation is less severe, surveillance is the main priority. Therefore, IDH is ensuring that SODEFOR gets the necessary support to carry out additional patrols, which will be strengthened through remote sensing technology, enabling the tracking of deforestation hotspots.
The support of the national and regional committees in these pilots is crucial, and learning from these two pilots will help design future policies. This will ultimately contribute to the sustainable management of forest reserves that have been degraded by farming activities and human settlements.
Collective action to catalyze positive impact
The complete elimination of deforestation won’t happen overnight, and time will be required for the degraded forests to regenerate. However, multi-stakeholder coalitions that bring together stakeholders to discuss and agree on regional land management plans, can help ensure that sustainable agro-commodity production contributes to forest protection and community livelihoods. With government, farmers, CSOs and companies engaged in such a close dialogue in the Cocoa & Forests Initiative and Cavally Region, we can be hopeful for the future of forests in Côte d’Ivoire.