Prince Charles is set to make chocolate greener after 12 of the world’s largest cocoa manufacturers came together with the Prince to combat deforestation.
In a meeting organised by his International Sustainability Unit, 12 of the world’s largest cocoa and chocolate companies including Mars, Mondelez, and Ferrero, have promised to make a plan to stop deforestation in West Africa.
While the beef and palm oil industry have been criticised for a long time for the large-scale deforestation they bring about, chocolate companies have so far escaped the blame. However, recent reports have suggested that they contribute to the destruction of the rainforest.
The initiative also involves the governments of some of the top growers of cocoa including Ivory Coast and Ghana. The Ivorian Forestry Ministry estimates that 80% of the country’s forests have disappeared since the 1970s.
Richard Scobey, President of the World Cocoa Foundation, said: “Over the past 50 years, about half of the world’s tropical forests have been lost largely due to agricultural encroachment.”
He pointed out that the drivers of deforestation have typically been thought of as soy, palm oil, lumber, and cattle. He added: “However, in the case of West Africa, there’s no question that cocoa has been a significant driver.”
The Prince of Wales spoke at a reception in London where he said: “There are many reasons for this being, intrinsically, the right thing to do.
“I have for many years been deeply committed to the protection of the world’s tropical rainforests. They play an absolutely crucial role, both globally, and locally, in climate change mitigation and adaptation.”
Prince Charles added: “But perhaps the most powerful direct reason for action is that deforestation threatens to undermine the very resilience of the cocoa sector itself and with it the livelihoods of the millions of smallholders who depend on it, due to the increased climate variability that follows forest loss.”
The plan is expected to include stricter policing of the rainforests and bringing in incentives to grow higher yielding crops which require less land, yet produce more.
The World Cocoa Foundation Chairman Barry Parkin said: “We look forward to more companies joining the effort and are grateful for the leadership provided by the Prince of Wales in convening today’s landmark event.”