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International Partnerships

The Sustainable Cocoa Initiative

The EU launched the Sustainable Cocoa Initiative in 2020 to improve the sustainability of the cocoa supply chain with countries of West Africa, the main producers of cocoa in the world.


The objectives of the Sustainable Cocoa Initiative are to:

  1. ensure a decent living income for cocoa farmers
  2. advance the elimination of child labour and trafficking in cocoa supply chains
  3. strengthen forest protection and restoration in cocoa-producing regions

The Initiative contributes to the achievement of UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 1 'No poverty', SDG 2 'Zero hunger', SDG 5 'Gender equality', SDG 8 'Decent work and economic growth', SDG 10 'Reduced inequalities', SDG 12 'Responsible consumption and production', SDG 13 'Climate action', SDG 15 'Life on land' and SDG 17 'Partnerships for the Goals'.

‘Cocoa Talks’, an inclusive multistakeholder dialogue

One of the key pillars of the initiative is an inclusive multistakeholder dialogue, the "Cocoa Talks", organised by the European Commission. These roundtables bring together key EU stakeholders, including representatives of Member States, the European Parliament, the cocoa and chocolate industry and civil society organisations, as well as representatives of producer countries; Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Cameroon.

Thematic Roundtables

Following this first series of roundtables, the EU, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana and the cocoa sector have agreed to step up work on making cocoa more sustainable. At the High-Level Event of the Sustainable Cocoa Initiative held on 28 June 2022, they jointly endorsed an 'Alliance on Sustainable Cocoa', and an ambitious 'Roadmap' to improve the economic, social and environmental sustainability of cocoa production and trade. They committed to a set of concrete time-bound actions to improve the sustainability of the cocoa supply chain in West Africa. These commitments were endorsed at political level by producer countries and the cocoa sector and their implementation will be closely monitored by the European Commission.

Meeting reports 

EU Development Assistance

The EU is committed to supporting countries in the transformation of the sector for sustainable cocoa production and trade. To this effect, it has allocated €25 million in budgetary support and technical assistance in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Cameroon.

Additional resources from the EU budget for 2021-2027 also support sustainable cocoa. EU Commission resources, together with EU Member States' resources (ongoing and future programmes), are contributing to ambitious Team Europe Initiatives.

EU Trade

Together, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Cameroon produce more than 70% of world cocoa. Cocoa and derivate products are the main commodity these countries export to the EU.

In 2021, the EU imported around €4.5 billion worth of cocoa from these origin countries (Source: Comext). Efforts to improve the sustainability of this commodity is therefore of great importance. In this regard, the EU trade agreements contribute to a more sustainable trade policy, as recently laid down in the Trade Policy Review in 2021.

Free trade agreements are in place between the EU and the three main cocoa producing countries; Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Cameroon. These 'Economic Partnership Agreements' (EPAs) are special trade agreements covering trade in goods and sustainable development. They grant to partner countries duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market.

EPAs also provide legal certainty and platforms for regulatory and political dialogue between parties in the context of the EPA Committees. The sustainability of cocoa supply chain and shared efforts for the advancement of the Roadmap is systematically on the agenda of these meetings, which offer an additional platform for cooperation between the EU and partner countries.


In the context of the European Commission's political priorities, including the European Green Deal and a zero-tolerance approach to child labour, the Commission initiated a dialogue in support of a sustainable cocoa sector. It built upon the initiative of the two main producing countries, Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana, existing initiatives of EU Member States, partner countries, and international organisations.

Considering the role of the EU as a policy and global standard setter, the objective of the Initiative is to support the elimination of child labour and child trafficking, the protection and restoration of forests, and to ensure a living income for cocoa farmers.

The Sustainable Cocoa Initiative builds on Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana’s joint initiative of June 2019 for a Living Income Differential, a premium price for cocoa farmers and to trigger further progress on key sustainability issues in the cocoa sector in the longer term.

Furthermore, with the Sustainable Cocoa Initiative and the concrete actions endorsed in the Roadmap, efforts made in the context of the Initiative supplement the EU Regulation on Deforestation-free products, the Proposal for a EU Regulation on prohibiting products made with forced labour on the Union market and the Proposal for a Directive on corporate sustainability due diligence. 

Key Information

Launch date

September 2020 – Launch event

EU Contribution

Total estimated cost: €28 400 000: of which EDF contribution €25 000 000 (€8 000 000 for budget support and €17 000 000 for project modality) and German cooperation (BmZ) contribution €3 400 000

Implementing organisations

Direct management through:

  • Budget Support: Sector Reform Performance Contract (Côte d’Ivoire)
  • Administrative Arrangement with an EC institution (Joint Research Centre - JRC)

Indirect management with:

  • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
  • The Investment Centre of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
  • The European Forest Institute (EFI)

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