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    COP 23 launch of Cocoa & Forest Initiative’s Joint Framework for Action, session statement from Gerard A. Manley, CEO Olam Cocoa

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    At COP23 in Bonn, Germany today the Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI) Joint Frameworks for Action for ending deforestation and forest degradation in the cocoa supply chain in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana was launched. Mr. Manley made the following statement at the session:

    “In an ideal world, I would not be here. This Framework of Action would not exist. Cocoa farmers would not be living in poverty and forest cover would be abundant in West Africa.

    But it’s not an ideal world.  And there are many reasons why we are in this position. Some of which are depressingly recurrent. Others which are market-led. And many which are symptomatic of a multitude of sectors and issues beyond cocoa.

    What I do find truly inspirational however, is that the plan presented today is indicative of what can be achieved in just 8 months. That’s the short time since the Cocoa & Forests Initiative was launched. Each year, there is much talk at the COP about the need for Private Public Partnerships to claw back the temperature rise. And here we are, as competitors, as brands, as retailers and as Governments, working together in a common cause with a clear plan and targets. It will not be easy. There is much still to thrash out. But this Framework is a very big step on the long journey to re-imagine cocoa production.

    For Olam’s part we are committed to 4 key areas:

    • We are committed to living landscapes. We will work with smallholders to help keep existing forests intact; to supply more forest trees and shade trees; and help restore landscapes. We support Governments’ plans to reclassify existing forests and create an accurate picture; draw a line in the sand against further deforestation; protect biodiversity; and help prevent climate change impacting farmers around the world.
    • We are committed to improving livelihoods. As we know, deforestation by cocoa farmers is a direct result of entrenched poverty, which Olam and many of our peers, customers and NGO’s have been tackling for several years. Since 2009, Olam has been working with farmers in West Africa to improve productivity and incomes, providing agri and environmental training, credit, as well as health and educational infrastructure. In 2011 we began working with Rainforest Alliance to produce the world’s first climate friendly cocoa in Ghana, and our programmes have increasingly included measures to protect forests. Today, over 85,000 cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire and 30,000 in Ghana are in Olam Livelihood Charter
    • We are committed to traceability. All co-operatives in our direct sourcing operations must sign the Olam Supplier Code and we do not and will not knowingly purchase cocoa from protected areas within this supply chain. For our third party supply chain, we will cease all collaboration with any supplier sourcing from a farmer found to be operating in a protected area. This also includes those suppliers we consider to be at too much risk given the areas in which they operate.

    Crucially, technology is catching up.  With our bespoke platform – the Olam Farmer Information System (OFIS), we have registered almost 65,000 smallholder cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire and over 14,500 in Ghana whose farms are then mapped and surveyed in detail.  This – alongside yield improvements – allows us to mitigate against forest encroachment and is crucial to our ambitious 2020 goal – that 100% of our directly sourced volumes are traceable and sustainable.

    • And finally, we are committed to protecting forests all around the world. Deforestation issues extend far beyond West Africa, and far beyond cocoa. Olam International is in the final stages of a consultation on Global Forest Policy which will extend across commodities and continents. The challenge will be implementing in a supply chain of 4 million smallholders in Africa, Asia and South America.  This will not deter us.   As we have shown with the Cocoa & Forests Initiative, working with peers, customers, governments and NGOs will be absolutely essential.  But learning from that process, I hope that in a year’s time we will see presentations from other commodity sectors that create the impact we want and, quite frankly, need.

    To close, I would like to pay tribute to the “public” in this public/private partnership.  The Governments of Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana have shown true leadership – in recognising the problem; creating the right environment for businesses like Olam to engage; and protecting the future of their country’s forests, farmers and cocoa production.”

    The CFI is the first collective industry commitment to specifically end deforestation and forest degradation covering the global cocoa supply chain.

    Olam’s commitment is among that of the world’s leading cocoa and chocolate companies, including Barry Callebaut; Blommer Chocolate Company; Cargill; CEMOI; ECOM; Ferrero; The Hershey Company; Mars, Incorporated; Mondelez International; Nestlé; and Touton.

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