The Partnership Meeting that took place on October 26-27 in Abidjan provided an unprecedented chance for the global cocoa sustainability community to learn about WCF’s new strategic directions.
Co-convened with Le Conseil du Café-Cacao, the meeting attracted more than 550 participants from no fewer than 24 countries, including a large number of cocoa farmers.
More than 60 sustainability experts addressed a range of topics during the meeting’s 16 different sessions on sustainable livelihoods for cocoa farmers, emerging technologies for farm productivity, promoting youth engagement, and more.
WCF President Rick Scobey stressed that the cocoa sector faces a unique opportunity to deepen efforts to build a sustainable supply chain where farmers’ lives are improved, the environment is better protected, and all participants prosper and grow.
He highlighted four areas where he wants WCF to deepen its impact: sustainable livelihoods of farmers; greater reach and impact of WCF’s sustainability programs; environmental sustainability, particularly deforestation linkage; and increased transparency and accountability among all actors in the supply chain.
The meeting, organized for the first time ever in Côte d’Ivoire, bore witness to growing alignment on key issues among all actors in the supply chain.
Remarks made by Ivorian Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan, First Lady Dominique Ouattara, Conseil du Café-Cacao Director-General Massandjé Touré-Litse, and Cocobod Chief Executive Stephen K. Opuni, along with others, all addressed sustainable livelihoods, deforestation, and women’s empowerment.
Participants heard how, for some areas, there is a consensus about necessary interventions to accelerate sustainability in the cocoa sector, and the core challenge is to move to scale – particularly in the areas of productivity, women’s empowerment, community development, and child protection.
In other areas, clearly more analysis and research are needed to better diagnose the problems and pilot solutions – such as addressing deforestation and climate change, and alternative income-generating activities for cocoa farmers.
The discussions also demonstrated a growing level of trust and commitment among all the stakeholders to work together.
There was repeated reference to CocoaAction providing a strong framework to strengthen public-private collaboration. Another central theme was about looking to the future and reflecting on what cocoa production and processing will look like in 2030.
The meeting ended with a strong shared commitment to deepen collaboration, including more effective dialogue between private sector and governments on key policy issues, more active engagement between WCF and civil society organizations, and expanded collaboration with international financial organizations to mobilize the resources needed to scale up sustainability.
Without doubt, the most inspirational part of the Partnership Meeting was the opportunity to listen to the cocoa farmers who participated in panels and attended the discussions, particularly a number of dynamic women farmers. Without them, none of us would be here.
SAVE THE DATE for WCF’s next Partnership Meeting October 24-25, 2017, at the Marriott Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C.