Mondelez International unveiled two new directives in support of reducing deforestation in West African cocoa supply chains.
Cocoa Life, the Deerfield, Ill.-based company’s sustainable sourcing program, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Côte d'Ivoire's Ministry of Environment on Wednesday to support its goal to reach zero deforestation in cocoa under the country’s REDD+ program. Cocoa Life has also signed a Letter of Intent with the Forestry Commission of Ghana and the UN Development Programme to establish a REDD+ partnership in Ghana.
Using guidance from several United Nations agencies, the REDD+ program is designed to incentivize developing countries to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, which counts for 11 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, the UN says.
"Cocoa farmers and community leaders in West Africa tell us climate change is already impacting their farms," says Chris McGrath, Mondelez chief well-being, sustainability and public affairs officer. "With our investment in Cocoa Life, we have the capacity and the partnerships to help farmers become more resilient by adopting climate-smart solutions and protecting forests. These new agreements will amplify our existing work to protect the precious environment in cocoa-growing regions."
Cocoa Life aims to reach more than 200,000 farmers across six countries. Mondelēz International's ultimate goal is to sustainably source all the company's cocoa supply, mainly through Cocoa Life. By working in partnership with farmers, nongovernmental organizations, suppliers and government institutions, Cocoa Life answers Mondelēz International's Call For Well-being, which urges employees, suppliers and community partners to join together to develop new approaches that can have a positive impact on the planet and its people.
Cocoa Life and Côte d'Ivoire's Ministry of Environment will create a forest protection map, land use plan and tracking system to identify deforestation risks and opportunities to restore forest cover in the Nawa region, which borders the precious Tai National Park. Additionally, Cocoa Life will promote good agricultural practices to enable farmers to improve productivity, adopt agro-forestry systems and free up land for other crops or reforestation.
"Mondelēz International, through its Cocoa Life program, is leading the cocoa industry to engage an approach to reduce deforestation in the cocoa supply chain in Côte d'Ivoire," says Jean Paul Aka, head of National REDD+ Strategy and Private Sector Commitment.
Meanwhile, the Cocoa Life program in Ghana will continue to contribute to national efforts to make the cocoa sector economically and environmentally sustainable through the promotion of climate-smart approaches to cocoa farming, says Yaw Kwakye, head of the Climate Change Unit in Ghana's Forestry Commission. 
"Spearheading the uptake of innovation and best practices in major cocoa communities in Ghana, the program remains a leader in advancing a new way of cocoa production that addresses deforestation and forest degradation,” Kwakye says.