Between 1960 and 2017, Côte d’Ivoire’s forest cover declined from 12 million hectares to less than 3 million hectares as agriculture, cocoa production in particular, expanded. Deforestation rates are extremely high, at around 3% annually. At current trends, Côte d’Ivoire’s forests will in the near future not be sufficient to fulfil their ecosystem functions, threatening the country’s agricultural economy, and putting at risk the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers.
Côte d’Ivoire has made strong commitments since 2014 to decouple agricultural production from deforestation and restore forest cover to 20% of the territory by 2030, from the current 11%. These commitments were first integrated into the country’s National REDD+ Strategy, adopted in 2017. The strategy articulates the country’s multisectoral response to boost forest restoration and zero-deforestation agriculture. A new forest code, adopted in 2019, provides the framework for action to extend and restore the country’s forest cover.
Many private sector actors, particularly in the cocoa supply chain, have also formulated sustainability objectives, some of which have been put into practice through pilot projects of agroforestry and plantations. Public and private common objectives to end deforestation have been consolidated in the Cocoa & Forestry Initiative’s Joint Action Framework signed in November 2017. This collaborative framework promotes public-private partnerships, which will be essential to implement forest restoration at scale and reach Côte d’Ivoire’s sustainability objectives.