24 Oct 2022

“Our vision is a world in which farmers thrive”

A climate conversation with Fairtrade partner Divine Chocolate

The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP27 is less than two weeks away. Member State delegates, climate activists and civil society actors are all preparing to descend on Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, to ensure concrete action to keep global temperatures below the 1.5C° threshold before it is too late.

Fairtrade will be on the ground at COP27 to ensure that fair and sustainable food systems remain at the centre of each and every conversation. That’s because building sustainable food systems is not only fundamental to spearheading the global green transition, but it is also key to ensuring a more equitable future for all – not least for the small-scale farmers in the frontline of climate change.

But what does a fair and sustainable food system look like? And which global stakeholders do we need on board to ensure meaningful climate action?

To answer these questions and more, we reached out to members of Fairtrade’s Climate Network – a forum bringing together Fairtrade partners committed to building sustainable supply chains – and spoke to Divine Chocolate’s International Sustainable Marketing Manager, Don Jayasinghe, to get his take on building a fair and green future.

Don Jayasinghe
Don Jayasinghe is International Sustainable Marketing Manager at Divine Chocolate

How does Divine envision the future of sustainable supply chains? What do you want to see happen?

We want to see a more equitable distribution of the wealth that is generated by the chocolate industry. We want cocoa farmers to receive fair payment for their work, to earn a living income amidst decent working conditions, and to produce crops in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. Our vision is a world in which farmers thrive and prosper - where they are no longer exploited by the cocoa industry for our chocolate pleasure.

What kind of value added does partnering with Fairtrade deliver for you?

Divine Chocolate is fully committed to Fairtrade. The Minimum Price provides a safety net for farmers when market prices fall precipitously. Farmer co-operatives can also decide how best to invest the Fairtrade Premium to raise farm productivity and community wellbeing. Partnering with Fairtrade gives us confidence we are helping to increase income of farmers, strengthen co-operatives so farmers have greater influence in the chocolate industry, and support community projects that have a positive impact on farmer communities through better education, healthcare and infrastructure.

What does climate justice mean to you?

The climate crisis is upon us and smallholder farmers face the brunt of the impact through extreme and variable weather. Unfortunately, those who suffer most from consequences of climate change are those who have contributed least to carbon emissions. For us, climate justice is about strengthening farmer resilience and adaptability to climate change by supporting them in protecting soil fertility, promoting sustainable agriculture / agroforestry, and diversifying sources of income. We believe governments as well as international business have an important responsibility to support projects that increase the adaptability of people and the resilience of nature to negative effects of climate change.

Which global actors do we need on-board to make sustainable supply chains a reality?

We believe a sector wide approach is necessary to make sustainable supply chains a reality. The coordinated action of chocolate manufacturers, commodity traders, national governments, and development agencies - working through international multistakeholder initiatives, as well as the sensitisation of retailers and end-consumers to challenges in cocoa is pivotal to ensure smallholder farmers and the natural landscape they cultivate are no longer exploited for our chocolate pleasure.

How do you keep moving forward on your company's sustainability goals in the face of challenges such as the current inflation crisis?

We continue to protect our commitments to source sustainably through Fairtrade; give farmers a stronger voice, and a share of distributable profits through our co-ownership business model; and invest in farmer community programmes to raise adult literacy, protect tenant farmer rights, and strengthen sustainable agriculture / agroforestry.

What do you think consumers expect from you, now and going forward?

Enabling smallholder farmers to gain a fairer share of the value they help to generate through the chocolate industry, and helping to protect the fragile landscape where cocoa is grown, while providing consumers with delicious, high quality, ethically sourced chocolate.

Find out more about the Fair Trade movement’s mission at COP27.