Skip to main content

Integrating REDD+ and private sector cocoa initiatives in Côte d'Ivoire

Blog | Mon, 02 Dec, 2019 · 12 min read
Integrating REDD+ and private sector cocoa initiatives in Côte d'Ivoire: creating incentives for

Côte d'Ivoire is the world’s top producer of cocoa, providing roughly 42% of the global cocoa supply. However, this primacy comes at a cost, as cocoa production is also the main driver of deforestation in the country. Less than 11% of the country remains forested and less than 4% is densely forested.

Several studies have demonstrated the connection between deforestation and cocoa production in the country, and how deforestation can be partially attributed to the increasing global demand for cocoa and chocolate. These findings have helped raise awareness in the media and civil society, as well as contributing to a number of national forest policies aimed at combating deforestation and ensuring the production of forest-friendly commodities, such as cocoa.

In the private sector, growing pressure from consumers and environmental groups has led to private sector cocoa initiatives such as zero deforestation commitments, through which companies commit to eliminating deforestation from their operations. In 2017, 12 of the world’s leading cocoa and chocolate companies committed to work together in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to end deforestation associated with the production of cocoa.

It is increasingly recognized that private sector initiatives need to play a more important role in supporting national forest policy targets regarding deforestation and reforestation. And those who work in the industry recognize that it is important to work with governments to support national policies related to forest protection (Carodenuto, 2019). As a result, there is a growing need to consider the potential synergies and trade-offs between private commitments and national policies, particularly in areas where linkages between cocoa and deforestation are high, such as in Côte d’Ivoire or Ghana.

To fill this gap, UNEP-WCMC, with support from the CocoaSoils Project, carried out an exhaustive review to explore the synergies and trade-offs between the objectives of private-sector sustainable cocoa production initiatives (PSCIs) and national-level forest policies (NFPs) in Côte d’Ivoire.

The study examined a total of 17 PSCIs and 10 NFPs currently implemented in Côte d’Ivoire, including the National REDD+ Strategy of Côte d’Ivoire, using a systematic mapping approach. The policies reviewed included approaches such as mitigation of deforestation risk in supply chains, sustainable intensification, promotion of agroforestry practices and other forms of climate-smart cocoa production. These approaches can also act in synergy with national policies aiming at achieving sustainable agriculture, combating deforestation and mitigating climate change.

The National REDD+ Strategy of Côte d’Ivoire includes the implementation of zero deforestation agriculture in partnership with the private sector as a strategic objective. The integration of REDD+ and PSCIs has the potential to create additional incentives for smallholder farmers and to achieve a broader range of NFP goals. This is exemplified by the emission reduction programme for Taï National Park, a REDD+ project implemented by the government, with support from the Cocoa and Forests Initiative, an initiative designed specifically to maximise synergies between the private and public sectors.

The implementation of agroforestry practices, and other types of climate-smart agriculture approaches often included in PSCIs, can further strengthen the linkage between cocoa production, climate change mitigation through deforestation reduction and climate change adaptation. For example, the use of shaded cocoa systems not only has long-term productivity benefits, but also contributes to achieving the objectives of such NFPs as the Politique Agriculture Zero Deforestation en Côte d’Ivoire. It also contributes to the implementation of the REDD+ National Strategy which promotes the use of agroforestry to strengthen the resilience of agricultural systems to climate change and to ensure the diversification of incomes for farmers.

There are, however, several potential obstacles and trade-offs between the objectives of PSCIs and NFPs. These include: insufficient economic incentives to mitigate deforestation; ineffective agroforestry practices due to knowledge gaps about best practices; land tenure insecurity; and, land governance issues. At times, the objectives of different NFPs are incompatible, making it difficult for private sector stakeholders to make business decisions that support multiple NFPs.

Nevertheless, the implementation of approaches that simultaneously meet the objectives of PSCIs and NFPs represents an opportunity to achieve benefits beyond climate change mitigation and adaptation alone, such as water regulation, biodiversity conservation and many others. To maximize the provision of these benefits, it is vital to determine the locations where sustainable agriculture practices and other REDD+ interventions can achieve carbon and non-carbon benefits simultaneously.

To achieve this, UNEP-WCMC in collaboration with UNEP, the Secrétariat Executif Permanent REDD+ of Côte d’Ivoire and Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques en Côte d’Ivoire held consultation workshops and developed spatial analyses to explore areas where multiple benefits can be achieved, including suitable areas for forest restoration interventions. The analysis identified priority areas where forest conservation and restoration could provide benefits such as biodiversity conservation and soil erosion control and results were presented to decision makers.

The map below shows areas with opportunities for forest restoration, highlighting areas with the greatest potential for biodiversity conservation, soil erosion control and climate change mitigation benefits. The analysis suggests that the southern portion of the country, historically characterized by abundant forest cover, has higher potential for forest restoration, as well as offering additional benefits.

The implementation of forest restoration, as well as other NFP goals, requires funds that can potentially be made available through private investor contributions or innovative finance mechanisms, such as payments for ecosystem services and microfinance. For example, the Cocoa and Forest Initiative in Côte d’Ivoire has established a microfinance scheme through the development of Village Savings and Loan Associations, which support smallholder farmers in accessing loans to enable more sustainable practices.

Further research is needed on the synergies and trade-offs between PSCIs and NFPs, to help ensure that private sector initiatives aimed at zero-deforestation cocoa can best support national-level forest policies.


Map by UNEP-WCMC (2017) showing the areas with high potential for strengthening multiple benefits through forest restoration (in red) and dashed areas highlighting different ecosystem types (forests in green and savannah in red and yellow)
Map by UNEP-WCMC (2017) showing the areas with high potential for strengthening multiple benefits through forest restoration (in red) and dashed areas highlighting different ecosystem types (forests in green and savannah in red and yellow)



Carodenuto, S. (2019). Governance of zero-deforestation cocoa in West Africa: New forms of public–private interaction. Environmental Policy and Governance, 29(1), pp.55-66.

Hull, J. (2019). Linkages between Private Sector Cocoa Initiatives and National-Level Forest Policies in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. A review developed on behalf of CocoaSoils project and UNEP-WCMC.

Maukonen, P., Miles, L., Koné, I., Ouattara, K., Koffi, A.D., Bakayoko, A., Yao, M., Konan, E.L., Kassi, S.P. et Équipe de la Cellules & MNV du SEP REDD+ (2017). Cartographie des benefices multiple de la REDD+ en Côte d’Ivoire. Rapport d’étude prepare par UNEP-WCMC au nom du Programme ONU REDD, Cambridge, UK.

Secrétariat Executif Permanent REDD+ (SEP REDD) (2017). Stratégie Nationale REDD+ de la Côte d’Ivoire. Ministère de l’environnement et du Développement Durable. Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.