A Sweet Nothings report published by organisation Mighty Earth in February 2022 highlighted “unfulfilled promises” of cocoa buyers and chocolate companies in tackling cocoa-driven deforestation in West Africa. This investigation, according to the organisation, revealed evidence of ongoing deforestation in the cocoa-growing regions of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.
A year on from the report, Mighty Earth examined their satellite data and have said that the data indicates little improvement. Deforestation across Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire’s cocoa growing regions in 2022 remained “stubbornly” high. RADD alerts picked up over 8000 hectares (ha) of forest disturbance in Côte d’Ivoire and in Ghana, RADD alerts highlighted over 12,000 ha of disturbance, similar to a figure on disturbance lost in 2021.
Mighty Earth have expressed concerns, as several years have passed since the cocoa industry have committed to take action against deforestation, citing the November 2017 Climate Change Conference, where governments of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, alongside cocoa traders and leading chocolate manufacturers signed the Cocoa and Forests Initiative (CFI) Framework for Action. This was followed in 2019 by a publication detailing action plans in the hopes that companies across the cocoa supply chain would take measures to tackle deforestation.
Evidence suggests, Mighty Earth have said, that companies and governments have not made progress. In Cote d’Ivoire, tree cover loss in cocoa growing regions has increased from 5500 ha in 2019 to 8400 ha in 2022. In Ghana, tree cover loss has averaged 12,000 ha since 2019 and 12,350 ha in 2022.
Ghana is estimated to have lost 65% of its forest cover over the last 30 years, while Cote d’Ivoire has lost as much as 90%. In the last four years, 4.7% has been lost in Ghana and 2.6% in Cote d’Ivoire.
New legislation is due to come in banning the sale of agricultural products linked to deforestation in EU markets, which Mighty Earth has said it hopes will compel companies and governments in West Africa to take seriously commitments to protect forests in cocoa growing regions, and is calling again upon the CFI and its members to adopt a publicly available deforestation monitoring system, publish supply chain information related to cocoa sourcing, support sustainable cocoa-growing practices and work to rehabilitate forest landscapes.
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