As the ongoing challenges in the cocoa sector of West Africa continue, international NGO Mighty Earth announces the Cocoa Accountability Map, an ambitious initiative to help bring more transparency to the cocoa sector in West Africa. The Rainforest Alliance welcomes this map as an important contribution to our shared priorities. We recognize the ongoing, critical challenges in West Africa, including deforestation and threats to the human rights and economic wellbeing of cocoa farmers. These ongoing challenges are of the highest priority for the Rainforest Alliance. Improving transparency in the sector is one important piece of the solution.
Deforestation in West Africa has reached a tipping point. Everyone must do their part if we want to see sustainable change. The Cocoa Accountability Map is an important tool, which aims to provide the data necessary to assess the breadth and depth of the issue. Other similar tools include the IMAGE tool and Global Forest Watch, which have been tracing deforestation in near-real time since 2017 and 2000, respectively, and whose data the Cocoa Accountability Map is based on. These innovative, web-based platforms provide the necessary monitoring of deforestation, but there is still more work to be done.
The Rainforest Alliance contributed its available data to the Cocoa Accountability Map. This was possible because we have strengthened our assurance over the last year and have asked cooperatives to collect and share location data for their farmers. At this moment, the locations of UTZ and Rainforest Alliance Certified cooperatives included in the map are the average locations per cooperative taken from the 2018/2019 season. We aim to share an updated list once the audit season is completed.
In the current harvest season, all certified cooperatives have provided GPS points for the farms of their members. It is important to note that we are not able to share the names of the UTZ certified cooperatives together with their location per the terms of legally binding contracts. We are however able to share the cooperative names together with the number of hectares, certification status, and audit results.
We were pleased to support this important endeavour by Mighty Earth, and we look forward to continuing working with them and other key stakeholders, including the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, to bring greater clarity and action to the challenges of deforestation. We believe we have a shared responsibility, along with all actors in the global supply chain, to support sustainability transformation in West Africa’s cocoa sector.