UNDP started an exciting new chapter in its support to protect forests in Ghana, with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) earlier this year between the world’s biggest chocolate company, Mondelez International, the Forestry Commission of Ghana and the Ghana Cocoa Board. Through the new MOU, the partners will scale-up existing activities in cocoa producing landscapes to support the Ghana Cocoa Forest REDD+ Program (GCFRP).

GCFRP aims to significantly reduce the high rates of deforestation and forest degradation, as well as their associated greenhouse carbon emissions, from cocoa farming within Ghana’s High Forest Zone. It also seeks to significantly improve livelihood opportunities for farmers and forest users. This Program is an important element of Ghana’s REDD+ strategy, which ultimately aims to secure the future of Ghana’s forests.  

Together, the MOU partners will implement an action plan in key “Hotspot Intervention Areas”, focusing on:

  • Mapping all land uses, including cocoa farms.
  • Implementing “climate smart cocoa practices” to increase yields and sustainability.
  • Improving access to finance to foster good practices by farmers and communities.
  • Legislative and policy reform in critical areas such as tree tenure and wildlife resource management, which will be important for increasing communities’ rights to benefit from their natural resources. 
  • Coordination and measurement, reporting and verification.

As one of the largest cocoa-producing countries, Ghana supplies 20 percent of the world’s cocoa, but this is tied to high rates of deforestation, often driven by poor farmers trying to earn more by going into protected areas.

Since 2013, UNDP has been working with Mondelez International’s Cocoa Life programme and the Ghana Cocoa Board to promote environmentally sustainable production practices and natural resources in cocoa landscapes across Ghana. As part of this work, we are supporting the reintroduction of shade grown cocoa. This has involved training more than 9,600 farmers and distributing 1.1 million economically viable timber shade tree seedlings, with the aim of ultimately helping farmers to diversify their incomes, while also making landscapes more resilient against pests, disease and climate change.