Building trust for traceable deforestation-free cocoa

  • Year

    2021 – 2022

  • Location

    Ecuador, Colombia

  • Partners

    Alisos, MagorExport del Ecuador S.A., Climate Focus

  • Budget

    EUR 80 000

  • Funded by

    EU REDD Facility


In January 2021, to anticipate the policy developments and future requirements of cocoa-importing markets, the EU REDD Facility began a participatory diagnosis to determine the viability of a national information system for monitoring deforestation risks and other environmental, social and economic aspects of cocoa value chains in Ecuador and Colombia. The proposals for this information system were developed based on each country’s context and through a participatory process involving representatives of the main actors in the value chain.

The objective

The objective of the participatory appraisal was to initiate a national dialogue on the development of an information system to:

  • Promote transparency in supply chains, thereby reducing information asymmetry and encouraging the inclusion of all stakeholders, such as indigenous and peasant communities and other vulnerable actors
  • Have legitimate, credible and verifiable information to support operators and traders in their future due diligence
  • Orient policies, financial incentives and private investments with a sustainability approach, in areas where the risks of unsustainable practices are highest, where greater efforts are needed to reduce deforestation and other environmental, social and economic risks, and where producers tend to be more vulnerable

Cocoa plantation at sunset in Quindío, Colombia.

The approach

The EU REDD Facility’s support aimed to assist Colombia and Ecuador in their national processes of adapting to the new market requirements. It focused on the development and implementation of an information system on the sustainability of the countries’ cocoa supply chains. The Facility’s support consisted of two components:

  • The creation of a working group representing relevant actors from the cocoa sector, including the public administration, the private sector and civil society, to facilitate dialogue about monitoring and traceability systems
  • Work on technical aspects, including:
    1. Conducting an appraisal of the cocoa sector, value chain and supply chain in each country (production, processing, exporting and marketing)
    2. Identifying attributes that underpin sustainable cocoa production and monitoring indicators
    3. Identifying existing systems, processes and data that could inform the design of a traceability and transparency system (TTS).


Based on the results from the diagnosis and multistakeholders workshops, in both countries the recommended  information system is a TTS. These systems provide  adequate verifiable information about the supply chain and incorporate a territorial sustainability approach. The TTS enables the assessment of supply chain risks through sustainability indicators as a requirement for accessing the most demanding markets. The systems should be structured based on the progress achieved in both countries in terms of traceability and monitoring at the national level and the level of individuals or regional actors. They should also be based on data availability.

The objective of a TTS is to provide verifiable public information on risks associated with sustainability in cocoa-producing areas. That makes it possible to identify geographical areas with a high level of risk to accelerate their transition to sustainable models of production. The system also enables assessment of progress, both at the regional level and among individual stakeholders, complementing certification schemes that focus on evaluating performance at a given time. To achieve this objective, a system for monitoring sectoral and regional sustainability must be articulated with a system that ensures traceability throughout the supply chain, making the relevant information public and transparent, while respecting the confidentiality and privacy of the participating actors.

The work with the working groups in each country led to the development of a TTS proposal with the following elements:

  • The general model of the system
  • The flow of data
  • Governance of the system
  • Development and implementation roadmap

The methodology used for this national dialogue is based on the Transparency Pathway of the EU REDD Facility.