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Ghana has signed an agreement with cocoa and chocolate companies to accelerate collaboration to protect and restore forests in cocoa-growing areas.

With the agreement, the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) and the Forestry Commission of Ghana (GFC) are building a partnership to further align the Ghana Cocoa Forest REDD+ Programme (GCFRP) and the Cocoa and Forests Initiative to achieve no-deforestation commitments.

The Memorandum of Understanding, signed by GFC and WCF, commits the parties to work together in six regions where the government of Ghana has made action to protect and restore forests a priority.

The work in these Hotspot Intervention Areas has already started, with active engagements in the Asunafo-Asutifi, Bia-Juaboso, Kakum and Sefwi-Bibiani landscapes.

It is aligned with commitments spelt out in Ghana framework for action signed in November 2017 for the landmark Cocoa & Forests Initiative, a unique partnership of 35 companies, governments and cocoa-growing communities.

As part of the Memorandum of Understanding, the Forestry Commission will facilitate the development of strategic initiatives, collaborate on protocols for data collection and ensure stronger monitoring on social and environmental issues.

WCF is responsible for facilitating the coordination and convening the actions of the 35 cocoa and chocolate companies that have signed the Cocoa & Forests Initiative.

WCF will also support monitoring and evaluation, innovation and private-public learning.

In his remarks, the Chief Executive of the GFC, John Allotey said, “this partnership represents a phenomenal collaboration with the private sector to ambitiously contribute to real and verifiable emission reductions in Ghana’s precious forest landscapes which are home to diverse forms of wildlife and also provide important livelihood options for rural dwellers.

The GCFRP is already achieving significant impacts with inclusive governance arrangements and the GFC encourages other like-minded institutions to strategically partner with the program for visible impact at scale.”

“With our partner GFC, we aim to accelerate our journey towards forest positive cocoa,” said Richard Scobey, WCF’s President.

“Ending cocoa-related deforestation requires all stakeholders to work together. Today, WCF and cocoa and chocolate companies are strengthening our collaboration with the government of Ghana.”

The Cocoa and Forests Initiative is a public-private partnership to end cocoa-related deforestation and forest degradation and promote forest restoration.

Thirty-five cocoa and chocolate companies and governments collaborate within the framework of CFI with other stakeholders such as NGOs, farmer organizations and civil society organizations on the development and implementation of business-driven solutions.

In 2020, cocoa and chocolate companies announced major strides towards 2022 Cocoa and Forests Initiative targets with, for example, more than four million tree seedlings distributed to farmers to establish agroforestry systems and reforest degraded forests in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

The CFI contributes to Sustainable Development Goals 13 (Climate Action) and 15 (Life on Land) and is aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement.

The GFC and the Ghana Cocoa Board led in the design and development of the world’s first commodity-driven emission reductions programme – the Ghana Cocoa Forest REDD+ Programme (GCFRP). The programmme covers 5.9 million hectares of the cocoa-forest mosaic landscape.

The goal is to significantly reduce deforestation and forest degradation over a twenty-year period in a phased implementation approach by promoting climate-smart cocoa production, lower risk cocoa farming, landscape level land-use planning, strategic tree tenure reforms and forest rehabilitation interventions.

The programme will significantly deliver enhancements in ecosystem resilience, increase in farmers’ yields and generate multiple livelihood benefits underpinned by robust, transparent and inclusive governance structures.

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