Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sustainable Cocoa and Certification

While doing research on cacao certification I was led to ICCO website and found out lots of documents from their site. The Philippines is not yet a member of ICCO give that it is not producing big quantity of cacao/cocoa, but forward looking, the Philippine government should consider becoming a member with the renewed enthusiasm of cacao growers and farmers to plant more cacao trees and produce tons of cocoa.

This is a good read and reference but what I am after is a standard also for organic cacao, still this is a good basis for setting up such standards. In the framework though - dominance of profit over planet and people seems to me a very striking representation on the issue of sustainability. What would be the more appropriate representation for this diagram - that's the challenged that ought to be addressed!

The following are the main description of the framework:

Basic People (Social Responsibility) Principles
There is no specific definition of social sustainability and there is strong overlap and influence of the other dimensions. For the purposes of this discussion, the social dimension places people at the center. Focusing on commonalities of initiatives operating in the cocoa sector, issues of Human Rights, Communities, Labor Rights and Working Conditions (including Health and Safety) are included. These principles also consider The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as well as the Ethical Trading Initiative and Social Accountability International's SA8000 standard. Italicized issues have a high degree of overlap but not consistently across other initiatives.

Basic Planet (Environmental) Principles
Responsible environmental stewardship in cocoa‐farms and communities. Sustainable cocoa farming seeks to utilize natural resources in such a way that they can regenerate their productive capacity, and also minimize harmful impacts on ecosystems beyond a farm boundary.

Basic Profit (Economic) Principles
The viability of cocoa farming systems depends on its ability to contribute to the economic security of the key actors. At the farm level, economic viability security includes individual producers, producer groups, as well as maintaining household economic security while maintaining or increasing the quality of life for farm families and workers. Historically, the goal of economic viability and sustainable farmer livelihoods has been an assumption of outcomes of the sustainability standards, not necessarily integrated into the standard requirements.

Sustainable Cocoa and Certification
Working Document for Direct Dialogues workshop 
March 6th‐ 7th, 2014
February 22, 2014
Prepared for the ICCO
Aimee Russillo

Source -


Demand for “sustainable” cocoa in developed countries has been increasing and major chocolate manufacturers such as Mars Incorporated, MondelĂ©z International, NestlĂ©, Ferrero and Hershey have now publicly committed to source only cocoa that is certified sustainable that will eventually reach 100% fully certified by 2020. As these five leading companies represent about 50% of global cocoa use, the impact of such a strong commitment on the cocoa supply chain cannot be underestimated. This commitment and partnerships with voluntary sustainability standards has driven double and triple digit growth across the major sustainability standard schemes active in the sector (Fairtrade, Organic, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ Certified). Global market penetration over the four years to 2012 as expanded from 3% to 22% according to a recently released report.1

Of concern to some stakeholders is that the current models are certifying the status quo i.e. cocoa producers that are already well organized in successful cooperatives who can more easily meet (or invest in) compliance requirements. Due to the relative early stages of the sector, voluntary standard systems have most likely focused on those early adopters as “the low hanging fruits”. Considering that poverty represents one of the main sustainability issues of commodity production more generally, the vast majority of cocoa farmers remain marginalized and unable to benefit from certification. Evidence on economic gains through certification for cocoa producers is still scarce.

In addition, The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) has developed a technical committee as part of an ISO process to develop a sustainable and traceable cocoa standard CEN/TC 415. Most recently, the ISO/TC 34 working group 4 on cocoa has been elevated to a subcommittee designed to ensure more producing country participation. Some industry players have also developed their own sustainable cocoa programs and codes for their supply chains.

In view of multiplicity of standards and perceived limitations, (including relevance and applicability to local conditions and capacities), national authorities in some producing countries are now considering developing their own criteria to promote sustainable cocoa. A national standard may offer the advantage of including sector experience and thus making standards requirements more adapted to local reality, as well as improve smallholder access. These efforts are generally harmonized around standard criteria for certification. It remains to be seen whether the recent establishment of the ISO/TC 34 cocoa sub‐committee, with equal participation of producing countries, will integrate any current national level efforts.

Multiple standards are not necessarily a negative thing. Different standards with different approaches offer farmers, producer groups and buyers the opportunity for choice and alternatives that best suit their needs and interests. A marketplace with options can lead to real innovation and can drive performance improvement of the standards through competition. However, the proliferation of certification initiatives at the national, international, private and public levels, all claiming to achieve sustainability and targeting the same cocoa producers, has led to confusion and supply chain pressure to the detriment of smallholders. One of the main challenges is how each of the different systems defines sustainability and how they can complement one another.

Lack of Common Definition for Sustainability

Yet, there is no common agreement on what “sustainable” cocoa means, with some overlap between private, public and national efforts. Numerous past and current initiatives have attempted to address this challenge including The Roundtable for a Sustainable Cocoa Economy (RSCE), ISEAL, GIZ's Cocoa Forum, the World Cocoa Foundation among others. Despite considerable efforts made to harmonize the criteria and approach to measure and reward sustainability, there is a general recognition among cocoa stakeholders that much remains to be done. With the scale and complexity of the challenges in the sector, more cooperation is essential to secure social responsibility, environmental stewardship and economical viability for a sustainable cocoa economy. Different approaches towards sustainable cocoa production are needed and there is increasing attention for solutions in the pre‐competitive domain.

Moving Forward Collaboratively

Against this background, the ICCO organized an international workshop on cocoa certification which was held in Cameroon in June 2013. A recommendation from the workshop was that the ICCO would facilitate a follow‐up workshop, called direct dialogue, initially between the cocoa and chocolate industry and cocoa producing /exporting countries. Subsequently, it was recognized that the inclusion of all stakeholders, including NGOs, development organizations and standard systems were necessary for this direct dialogue.

The follow up workshop has been developed in coordination with the United Nations Forum on  sustainability Standards (UNFSS) and takes place early March 2014. Participation will include representatives from cocoa producing countries and the cocoa and chocolate industry, as well as private voluntary standards schemes, CEN/ISO and national standards either already established or being considered by cocoa‐producing countries.

1The State of Sustainability Initiatives Review 2014: Standards and the Green Economy.

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