The 2024 World Cocoa Conference opens in Brussels

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This Monday, April 22, Her Majesty the Queen of the Belgians will open, in her capacity as Advocate of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the fifth edition of the World Cocoa Conference (WCC) at The Square conference center in Brussels, in presence of the Minister of Development Cooperation and the European Commissioners for Trade and International Partnerships, amongst others.

Delegates attending WCC 2024 have already gathered this Sunday April 21 at two side events to launch the conference. At the end of the day, the WCC 2024 exhibition space was also officially inaugurated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Affairs and Foreign Trade, in presence of the Secretary of State of the Brussels Region Capital for International Relations and Foreign Trade, as well as the Executive Director of the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO).

Towards a more sustainable cocoa economy

A flagship event in the cocoa economy, this conference is jointly organized by the FPS Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation and the ICCO. Based in Abidjan (Ivory Coast), this organization includes 52 member states: 29 cocoa-importing countries – including Belgium – and 23 exporting countries. In addition to the delegates from the governments of these States, representatives of other actors in the cocoa value chain and the sector will also be present in Brussels, namely: cocoa farmers, cooperatives, cocoa and chocolate multinationals, industrialists active in logistics, small chocolatiers, financial institutions, the International Labor Organization, development aid agencies, NGOs, specialized journalists and researchers.

This global conference comes at a crucial time. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has not been possible to organize it for 6 years even though it is normally biennial. In addition, the cocoa sector is currently facing a period of high prices and new legislation that will impact the market such as European legislation on imported deforestation and due diligence on sustainable value chains.

It is important to remember that cocoa is mainly produced by small, poor producers in West Africa. The ICCO, in agreement with Belgium as host country, has therefore placed the question of the price of cocoa and the income of cocoa farmers at the center of the WCC 2024 debates under the title: “Paying more for a sustainable cocoa” . Indeed, obtaining better income for cocoa farmers is the best way to fight against child labor and deforestation by allowing them to assume the cost of a transition to more sustainable production.

During the conference, several panels will cover varied topics, including how to achieve a living income for farmers, agricultural models, the role of women in the cocoa economy, environmental due diligence of private companies and human rights, the fight against deforestation and governance policies. WCC 2024 will therefore also be an opportunity for stakeholders to present the progress they have made in different areas.

Belgium’s long commitment to sustainable cocoa

Belgium was one of the first countries to establish a national platform for sustainable chocolate (“Beyond Chocolate”) and to advocate for a living income for the producer as a key element towards sustainability. Through this initiative set up in 2018, the Belgian authorities and representatives of the sector – chocolatiers, cocoa processors, supermarkets and NGOs – have committed to making all Belgian chocolate sustainable by 2030. This partnership aims firstly to ensure a living income for producers who supply the Belgian market.

Our country also supports cocoa cooperatives, notably through its development agency Enabel and its “Trade for Development Center” program, and also invests in local processing capacity through the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO).

By hosting the 5th edition of the WCC, Belgium demonstrates its desire to remain a pioneer in this area and to do everything possible to successfully complete the efforts undertaken for several years by the international community to obtain sustainable cocoa, with a fair pricing throughout its value chain.

The full program and all useful information on WCC 2024 are available via the following link: Home - World Cocoa Conference 2024.

Follow WCC 2024 on our social networks: #WCC2024

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