Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo, together with the Belgian chocolate sector and NGO’s, wants to push forward with sustainable chocolate.
Those were the stakes of the first round table discussion on sustainable cocoa that the Minister held with a limited group of actors from the chocolate sector in Gentbrugge today.
Civil society actors active in sustainability and the international cocoa sector also took part in the round table. The Minister’s initiative fits within the continuing realisation of the Belgian SDG Charter signed by companies, civil society, and the government.
Alexander De Croo: “If we want to continue to deliver good and sustainably produced chocolate to consumers in the future, we must continue to pay attention to sustainable and climate-resilient crop improvements, to reducing deforestation, to improving working conditions and raising the incomes of farmers. All partners in the chain must work together to that end, with the support of the authorities, sectoral organisations and knowledge institutes”.
The objective will be for the federal government to launch a sector-wide program with companies and NGO’s to work on a joint agenda for the integration of sustainability in the Belgian chocolate industry later in the year. The round table discussion led to an initial analysis on how cooperation between government, companies and civil society can take shape and on what ground. Minister De Croo has asked IDH/The Sustainable Trade Initiative to carry on this inventory and to come up with advice on an ambitious program for cooperation.
Consumers inside and outside the country appreciate quality not just in terms of taste and other intrinsic aspects of the product, but also want the product to be produced in a fair and sustainable way.
Jos Linkens, chairman of sector organisation Choprabisco, feels a clear appetite in the sector and notes that individual companies are open to commit more on the continuing sustainability of the chocolate sector. Collectively, the members of Choprabisco represent almost 90% of the Belgian chocolate offer.