Chocolat Forever 6 The role of the social movement.

12 Feb

The role of the social movement.

There is a large social movement in the Netherlands, led by several NGOs, that highlights critical issues in the cocoa chain, such as labour conditions, environmental awareness, or earning a living wage. Such NGOs traditionally oppose industry stakeholders – especially multinationals – due to their strong influence on the cocoa chain. But civil society is increasingly being involved in attemps by industrial players to mainstraim sustainable cocoa partnerships.

Solidaridad and Oxfam Novib are the two best known examples. Both NGOs cooperate with industry, for example, by founding the cocoa programme for UTZ CERTIFIED and actively participating in the IDH network. Whereas Solidaridad’s primary focus is on training and organising farmers in origin countries. Oxfam Novib focuses on lobbying and partner support. Both NGO’s are also active in generating knowledge on social and (to a lesser extent) environmental issues and play a role in awareness raising. For example, Oxfam Novib last year started the ‘Groene Sint’ campain, aimed at raising awareness of the abuse that takes place on cocoa plantations. This campain had an impact on supermarkets and larger stores that sell a lot of ‘chocolate letters’ (it is a Dutch custom to give chocolate letters as gift for St.Nicholas day – 5 December). So far, seven stores have committed to sell only fair chocolate letters for the 2010 celebration.

Besides Solidaridad and Oxfam Novib, there are some other examples that illustrate the social movement, such as the Tropical Commodity (TCC) and Fair trade certifier Max Havelaar. TCC brings together different stakeholders in conferences and gives an annual overview of the progress made in the different sectors. Max Havelaar is another example of a development oriented organisation that actively engages in the cocoa sector and tries to reshape it by bringen Fairtrade products on the market.

As stated, these organisations bring forward a number of critical, largely overlapping issues. The main themes of their work are scalling up sustainable production and involving and supporting farmers in the sustainability debate. Both organisations play an important role in lobbying and raising awareness, not only on level of consumers but also with producers from their target group. TCC advocates the participation of producer organisations in sustainability denate, for example at conferences. It also facilitates roundtable meetings in producing countries (e.g., Gahna, Ecuador, and Indonesia) where all stakeholders can interact. Through these meetings, producers get better acquanted with each other and can learn from each other’s experiences. It also helps them to get their ‘voice’ heard at international round table meetings.

cocoaklein   cocoa_bags

Redefining the Dutch knowledge position.

With all eyes now focused on sustainability issues in the cocoa chain, a major shift is taking place. A more diverse set of actors is beginning to play a role in the sector and there is a change in the kind of knowledge taht is being developed in the Netherlands. Over the recent years, the Netherlands has developed a thorough knoledge base related to development of sustainable agricultural value chains. This knowledge base covers a wide range of products and different parts of  the chains (e.g., production, processing, trade, marketing, etc.) but also addresses integral matters (such as agro logistics, tracking and tracing, bridging demand and supply, bridging theory and practice, ect.). Furthermore, the intense dialogue between companies, civil society and goverment has further enriched stakeholders with knowledge and experience, in particular regarding coping strategies for sustainability in terms of consumer responses.

The next chapter examines some of the key challenges involved in sustainable cocoa production, specifically by looking at the role played by Dutch knowledge partners.


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