The Cocoa and Forests Initiative

Type of partnership
Enabling Conditions
Current status

Partnerships for Forests supported the development of a joint framework for action to end deforestation and forest degradation related to global cocoa production while improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers working in the cocoa supply chain.


Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire are the world’s largest cocoa producing countries and jointly account for over half of global supply. Cocoa is a significant contributor to both economies and employs around a quarter of the population. At the same time,  growing demand is placing increasing pressure on the countries’ forests. Ghana’s Cocoa Forest landscape is suffering from one of the highest deforestation rates in Africa, at 3.2% per annum.  Over a quarter of agriculture conversion is the result of cocoa expansion, rendering it the single most important commodity driver of deforestation in the area. Similarly, Côte d’Ivoire has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world, and it is estimated that 30,000-40,000 ha of forest are cleared every year for expansion of cocoa.

To address this, in March 2017, at a meeting hosted by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, twelve of the world’s leading cocoa and chocolate companies agreed to an industry Statement of Intent committing them to work in partnership with governments, companies, civil society and other stakeholders, to end deforestation and forest degradation in the global cocoa supply chain.

Signatories to the Statement of Intent committed to developing a joint public-private framework for action to address deforestation, to be developed through wide consultative processes, signed by government and industry, and presented at COP23 in November 2017[1]. This is the first ever collective industry commitment aimed at bringing deforestation and forest degradation around the global cocoa supply chain to an end. A total of thirty-five cocoa and chocolate companies have now signed up to the initiative.

The initial focus of the Cocoa and Forests Initiative is Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, with a view to expand its scope to other cocoa-growing regions and countries in the future.

The project

Following the announcement milestone in March 2017, Partnerships for Forests supported, through grant assistance, the development of the joint frameworks for action to operationalise the industry statement of intent. This project, led by IDH –the Sustainable Trade Initiative in partnership with the World Cocoa Foundation and the Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit (ISU), enabled the partners to:

  • Build and strengthen public-private partnerships for responsible cocoa production in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire;
  • Align the key principles and building blocks of the joint-frameworks of action between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire;
  • Establish a joint framework for action to end deforestation and forest degradation in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana that enables green growth by balancing social, environmental and economic needs and values; and
  • Promote regional harmony, learning, and monitoring to support the regional platform for the cocoa sector.

The Frameworks for Action were agreed on the 16th November and launched in Bonn at COP23. In all, the process brought together more than 500 stakeholders, including chocolate and cocoa companies, high-level government officials, development partners, environmental and civil society organizations, as well as farmer associations.


Next steps for the Cocoa and Forests Initiative will be to support the implementation of the agreed action plans at the global and local level.

For more information about the Cocoa and Forests Initiative and to access the Frameworks for Action, please visit:

[1] United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 23rd Conference of the Parties