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European Union  |  April 22, 2024 17:00:00, updated

Speech by Commissioner Urpilainen at the the World Cocoa Conference 2024

Urpilainen at World Cocoa Conference 2024

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I'm thrilled to address you at the opening of the 5th World Cocoa Conference.

My thanks to Belgium and the International Cocoa Organisation for convening this event.

As my colleague Vice-President Dombrovskis said, the theme for today – Paying More for Sustainable Cocoa – aligns closely with the EU's vision.

So many global challenges intersect when it comes to cocoa production.

The battle against climate change, including the urgent need to protect our forests.

The quest for human rights, especially the rights of children.

And the fight against poverty, so that people across the world can earn a decent living.

We are all here today because we want cocoa production to be environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable.

As the world's largest importer of cocoa, the EU has been working hard to make that happen. Let me briefly explain how.

First, at political level we continue to support a fair price for cocoa producers.

I have often said that when it comes to cocoa, “price and sustainability are like two sides of the same coin”.

Producing more sustainable commodities has a cost.

We simply cannot halt deforestation, ensure fair labour conditions, or reduce poverty without increasing the price of cocoa.

Farmers must receive a fair price for their beans. This is why the EU supported the historic introduction of a Living Income Differential by Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana – the two main producing countries.

We also support an economic pact on sustainable cocoa production.

And we welcome the recent decision by Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana to increase farmgate prices to producers.

Second, the EU has taken concrete action through the sustainable cocoa initiative.

The initiative has two components:

The multi-stakeholder dialogue – or Cocoa Talks – which so many of you have participated in.

And the Sustainable Cocoa Programme.

Funded through a EUR 31 million commitment by the EU and Germany, the Sustainable Cocoa Programme is built on close partnership with Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, and Cameroon.

And it builds on the key takeaways from the Cocoa Talks, turning them into action.

Together we are promoting responsible purchasing practices, setting up traceability systems, and helping farmers meet sustainability objectives.

For example, In Côte d'Ivoire, the Programme recently unveiled a national land-use map to manage deforestation.

In Ghana, we are working on a traceability system to help identify deforestation and child labour risks.

And in Cameroon, we're engaged in no less than 13 actions to support sustainable cocoa production.

We have already made significant progress through the Programme, and I believe the entire cocoa sector stands to benefit.

Third, the EU is not acting alone. Rather, our efforts span the full scope of EU Institutions and Member States.

For example, my colleague Vice-President Dombrovskis and I have been working closely to coordinate the EU's Trade and International Partnership efforts.

Additionally, several Team Europe Initiatives bring together the EU institutions, Member States, and the private sector to maximise impact.

For instance, a EUR 326 million Team Europe initiative in Côte d'Ivoire is working to support sustainable cocoa in all its dimension.

And beyond Team Europe Initiatives, the EU regularly engages with European countries on their own efforts, whether it's the Beyond Chocolate Partnership in Belgium, the German and Dutch Initiatives for Sustainable Cocoa or the Swiss Platform for Sustainable Cocoa.

Through regular communication, we ensure that Europe remains aligned.

Dear colleagues,

As you know, cocoa prices have reached an all-time high.

A variety of factors have led to the current market price.

But if there is a silver lining, it's this: the market has been able to absorb the price increase.

From chocolate makers to consumers, stakeholders across the value chain have been willing to pay more.

This backs what we already know about the growing global consensus for sustainable cocoa production.

In Europe, for example, a 2022 Cargill survey found that 7 in 10 consumers factored sustainability in their chocolate and cocoa purchase decisions.

This is good news.

It means our quest to produce cocoa in a way that protects the environment, children, and cocoa farmers is not just an aspiration.

It's within our reach.

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