Outcome of and follow-up to the meeting of the Round Table on a Sustainable World Cocoa Economy

The first meeting of the Round Table on a Sustainable World Cocoa Economy was held at the International Conference Centre in Accra, from 3–6 October 2007, made possible by the generous sponsorship of the Ghana Cocoa Board and the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality of the Netherlands. The Round Table brought together more than 200 participants from 25 countries, spanning the five continents of the world. They included representatives from cocoa farmers, co-operatives, traders, exporters, warehouse keepers, processors, manufacturers, governmental and non-governmental organizations, financial institutions and donor agencies. The meetings were conducted over four days in five plenary sessions and three focus groups. Each focus group meeting was dedicated to a different part of the cocoa economy: namely, for farmers, for governments and for industry/civil society.

The opening ceremony of the Round Table was presided over by Hon. Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu (MP), Minister for Finance and Economic Planning of the Republic of Ghana. The keynote speech of the meeting, entitled “The Importance of Sustainability,” was delivered by Hon. Ernest A. Debrah (MP), Minister for Food and Agriculture of the Republic of Ghana.

The International Cocoa Agreement, 2001 mandated ICCO members to work towards achieving a "sustainable world cocoa economy". With this long-term objective in mind, the ICCO Consultative Board on the World Cocoa Economy initiated work in this regard in 2005 and since then much progress has been made despite the complexity of the issue. The ICCO Council agreed to use the Brundtland Commission's definition of sustainable development http://www.worldinbalance.net/agreements/1987-brundtland.html as a basis to move the process forward. Building upon this concept, the Consultative Board established that a sustainable world cocoa economy would have to make advances on all the three pillars of sustainability - economic, social and environmental aspects. The present document proposes the hosting of a Round Table on a Sustainable World Cocoa Economy, involving all key stakeholders, as the next step.

The rationale for the Round Table
The process of globalization has raised awareness of unsustainable agricultural practices (which can result in land degradation, deforestation, water and air pollution, releases of greenhouse gases, etc), labour standards (including child labour), food safety and human rights issues, amongst consumers worldwide. These issues are relevant to the move to a sustainable development of the world cocoa economy. Consumers today are more conscious of the power they wield and are willing to exercise this power by means of purchasing decisions made at supermarket check-outs.

This consumer pre-occupation (aside from mankind's duty to take good care of the resources of planet earth) points to the need for sustainability throughout the cocoa sector. Sustainability will make cocoa and chocolate more attractive to consumers. Changes in cocoa processing and chocolate manufacturing will also be required, though some progress in this regard has already been made. A truly sustainable world cocoa economy will result in more reliable and higher incomes for cocoa farmers. This transition will involve potential costs which will have to be borne by users and/or end consumers, with investments being made in both cocoa producing and cocoa consuming countries.

Moving towards a sustainable world cocoa economy will involve actions on the part of producers and users of cocoa, their governments and others in the value chain. Durable, permanent progress can only be achieved by building consensus amongst an increasingly broad range of key stakeholders. The best way to build such a consensus is to hold a Roundtable meeting to explore the issues and establish a road-map enabling the stakeholders to articulate a vision of a sustainable world cocoa economy and to agree on a plan of action towards that goal.

Objectives and tasks of the Round Table
The objectives of the Round Table are to build a consensus on defining a concept or model of criteria, indicators and ways to achieve a sustainable world cocoa economy through a participatory and comprehensive approach. Specific goals of the Roundtable would also be to develop a collaborative approach to promote sustainable cocoa activities and identify sources of funding to achieve these goals. The Roundtable tasks are:

• To develop clarity of vision with regard to the critical activities required for the world cocoa economy to be considered as sustainable
• To agree on the concept, processes, type of activities and indicators required for a more sustainable world cocoa economy
• To develop appropriate means for validating indicators and procedures for reporting on progress
• To stimulate the implementation of projects on sustainability
• To propose funding sources for projects to achieve sustainability
• To create awareness and publicise the work of the Roundtable.

There is a clear need for a collaborative approach to issues of sustainability, involving the knowledge and experience of a broad range of significant stakeholders. The International Cocoa Agreement, 2001 provided the opportunity for strong co-operation between the cocoa producing and cocoa consuming countries on this important issue. However, real progress and lasting improvement will only be made through deep and genuine collaborative efforts between cocoa consuming interests, cocoa producing interests, with the involvement of other significant stakeholders.

The Round Table will deliberate on and propose indicators (or measures) against which cocoa can be assessed before it is considered "sustainable". In time, this will affect the way cocoa is produced, processed and manufactured throughout the value chain, from the farmer to the final consumer. This will imply the establishment of codes of conduct in terms of good agricultural, commercial and industrial practices, and eventually include specifications for the traceability of the product throughout the value chain. The Roundtable should aim to reach consensus on minimum acceptable standards for cocoa production and processing, which can subsequently and continuously be improved upon and define indicators for measurement of them. The Round Table offers a unique opportunity to all stakeholders in the cocoa sector to share ideas and experiences, while building on the progress made by other agricultural supply chains in both temperate and tropical zones.

The first meeting of the Round Table on a Sustainable World Cocoa Economy was held at the International Conference Centre in Accra, from 3-6 October 2007, made possible by the generous sponsorship of the Ghana Cocoa Board and the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality of the Netherlands. The Roundtable brought together more than 200 participants from 25 countries, spanning the five continents of the world. They included representatives from cocoa farmers, co-operatives, traders, exporters, warehouse keepers, processors, manufacturers, governmental and non-governmental organizations, financial institutions and donor agencies. The meetings were conducted over four days in five plenary sessions and three focus groups. Each focus group meeting was dedicated to a different part of the cocoa economy; one for farmers, one for governments and one for industry/civil society.

Participants stated that they would like to continue to operate in an open and participatory approach. They expressed the view that encouraging progress had been made during the first Round Table meeting, but that much remained to be done before the world cocoa economy could be considered sustainable. Participants strongly proposed holding a second Round Table meeting in about twelve months' time, in another cocoa producing country. ICCO was invited to consider facilitating this next meeting (once agreed by the ICCO Council) and to develop a concrete agenda, inviting stakeholders. It was considered very important to maintain the momentum of this initiative in the coming months.

As a result of the Roundtable, the participating stakeholders agreed on topics and priorities to be considered in the context of a sustainable cocoa economy, the Accra Agenda.

British Flag    Accra Agenda - English
French Flag    Accra Agenda - Francais 
Spanish Flag    Accra Agenda - Español 

3. The deliberations, both in the focus groups and in the plenary sessions, took place in an open and constructive atmosphere. All the different stakeholders demonstrated their willingness to move forward in a spirit of co-operation and with a respect for the views of others. This resulted, at the end of the meeting, in a consensus document entitled: The “Accra Agenda” towards a Sustainable World Cocoa Economy. The “Accra Agenda” provides a comprehensive framework, containing priority areas for action, which are categorized under the headings of an institutional framework; sustainable production; commercialization, processing and manufacturing; sustainable consumption; and the international dimension. A detailed report on the procedures and outcome of the first Round Table meeting, including the “Accra Agenda” is available on the ICCO website. All documents are available in English, French and Spanish.

4. Towards the end of the meeting, participants stated that they would like to continue to operate in an open and participatory approach. They expressed the view that encouraging progress had been made during the first Round Table meeting, but that much remained to be done before the world cocoa economy could be considered sustainable. Participants strongly proposed holding a second Round Table meeting in about twelve months’ time, in another cocoa producing country. ICCO was invited to consider facilitating this next meeting (once agreed by the ICCO Council) and to develop a concrete agenda, inviting stakeholders. It was considered very important to maintain the momentum of this initiative in the coming months.

5. To that effect, the Executive Director called a meeting of a “pre-working group”, consisting of the spokesman for Producers and Consumers, the Chairman of the Consultative Board on the World Cocoa Economy and three people who had been very active during the Round Table meeting in Accra. The pre-working group meeting discussed the outcome of the Accra meeting; possible procedures and arrangements for the follow-up to the Accra meeting; the mandate and composition of the Round Table Working Group; and “Next Steps” to be taken.

6. The pre-working group agreed that the Accra meeting had resulted in a very positive and encouraging consensus document. Among the issues which had to be addressed in the near future was the position and role of the ICCO in relation to the Round Table on Sustainable Cocoa, in the context of the need for openness and independence, and in ensuring that all actors would be included in the multi-stakeholder process. The pre-working group also agreed that the aim of the next meeting would have to be clearly determined and a first attempt would have to be made to establish standards for sustainability. Objectives and standards would have to be discussed in a very concrete way.

7. The Executive Director of ICCO presented proposals for procedures and arrangements for the follow-up to the Accra meeting. In his presentation, he proposed a Working Group be established for the Round Table on Sustainable Cocoa (RTSC) which would function independently from the ICCO. The functioning of the Working Group would be facilitated by the ICCO Secretariat. The pre-working group arrived at the following decisions in this context: - the pre-working group proposes an (initial) composition of the Working Group, while the Working Group itself determines its final composition; - the Working Group could elect its own Chairperson(s) and decides on its own rules and procedures; - the Chairman of the Consultative Board of ICCO will be invited to become a Member of the Working Group, while the Executive Director of ICCO will attend the meetings of the Working Group as an Observer in his capacity as facilitating the work of the Working Group; - the Members of the Working Group will report to their own constituencies, implying that the Chairman of the Consultative Board of ICCO reports to the Consultative Board and that the Executive Director of ICCO reports to the Council; - the ICCO will make meeting facilities available for the Group and the ICCO Secretariat will function as the Secretariat for the Group; - additional manpower would have to be made available to the ICCO Secretariat if the Working Group wishes to work with sub-groups (via the web) and to interact intensively with stakeholders; - the ICCO Council would have to agree on the above procedures and arrangements, taking into account that resources under the prerogative of the Council are to be made available.

8. It was furthermore agreed that the Chairman of the Consultative Board of ICCO would present to the Consultative Board the possibility to admit selected NGOs as observers to the meetings of the Board, with reference to its Rules and Regulations.

9. An indicative list of the composition of the Working Group was proposed, for further discussion and agreement by a broader group of stakeholders. The list comprised: the ICCO Spokesperson for Producers and the ICCO Spokesperson for Consumers; Oxfam International and another NGO (possibly the World Wide Fund for Nature); governments from cocoa producing and consuming countries: Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Ghana, Malaysia and the Netherlands and/or the European Commission; trade and industry associations: CAOBISCO, ECA, WCF, FCC, CICC (Cameroon) and the Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN); and the Chairman of the ICCO Consultative Board on the World Cocoa Economy.

10. In view of a recent early indication that Trinidad & Tobago might wish to host the next RSCE meeting, the pre-working group requested the Executive Director to explore this possible option as a venue for the next Round Table meeting. The meeting also requested the Executive Director to prepare a draft budget for the cost of preparations towards the next Round Table meeting, and the costs of the meeting, at a venue to be confirmed.