Last week the World Cocoa Foundation, a membership organization of more than 100 cocoa companies, held its annual partnership meeting in Berlin, Germany. The aim of the meeting is for governments, cocoa companies and farmers to identify and tackle the sector’s largest sustainability challenges. A 90-minute session was devoted to the topic of land tenure. The prominence of the session, as well as the seniority of the presenters – the Head of Sustainable Sourcing for Hershey’s and the Deputy Director General of Cote d’Ivoire’s Land Agency among them – is a powerful signaling effect.
Much of the world’s rural landscapes are technically managed by national governments with limited recognition of, or support for, the rights and management responsibilities of the rural poor who live in these areas. In an era of large-scale land acquisitions for global commodity production, this has led, in some cases, to governments allocating vast tracts of land and resources to companies with limited or no consultation of the people affected.