The Hershey Company today announced that it will be partnering with Côte d'Ivoire government agencies and non-governmental organizations through public-private partnerships to invest in the construction of ten primary schools in cocoa-growing communities and implement a focused program to preserve the Mabi-Yaya Nature Reserve. Purposefully aligned with the objectives of Côte d'Ivoire's National Strategy for Sustainable Cocoa and Hershey's new Income Accelerator, these investments reflect a shared commitment to ensuring a better and more sustainable cocoa supply chain for years to come.
"Access to education for children and environmental conservation are critical components of our broader Cocoa For Good strategy and vital to building healthy communities where cocoa farmers and their families live," said Chuck Raup, president, U.S., The Hershey Company. "We are proud to take an active role in creating greater access to primary schooling and building the critical conservation programming needed to support healthy cocoa ecosystems and farmer income resilience."
Working with the National Oversight Committee of Actions against child trafficking, exploitation and child labor (CNS), chaired by Côte d'Ivoire First Lady Dominique Ouattara, and the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), Hershey will fund the construction of ten schools. As part of Hershey's commitment to improve children's well-being and prevent and eliminate child labor, these schools will create critical infrastructure to enable generations of children to succeed.
Further, Hershey will partner with the Foundation for the Parks and Reserves of Côte d'Ivoire to advance preservation efforts in the Mabi-Yaya Nature Reserve (RNMY), which was created in 2019 in the heart of the country's southeastern cocoa producing area. Hershey's investment will support conservation and management activities implemented by the Ivorian Office of Parks and Reserves (OIPR), including replanting nearly 1000 hectares of degraded lands, conducting a biodiversity census inside RNMY, strengthening existing ecological monitoring capabilities and engaging local communities for support. These efforts to restore RNMY's natural integrity further Hershey's broader commitment to mitigate the effects of climate change and deliver on its Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI) action plans.
The Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of Côte d'Ivoire fully appreciates this partnership with Hershey which will strengthen its actions on the entire network of protected areas and contribute at the international level to the achievement of the Aïchi targets on the global importance of biological diversity.
"Collaboration between public and private actors remains the most effective option for ending child labor in cocoa production," said Dominique Ouattara, first lady of Côte d'Ivoire, president of the National Oversight Committee of Actions against child trafficking, exploitation, and child labor.
Matthias Lange, Executive Director of ICI, a multistakeholder organization tackling child labor and forced labor in cocoa, added, "We are pleased to support this important collaboration to improve access to quality education. In line with national priorities, we know that improving access to quality schools is an important step in tackling child labor in cocoa-growing communities."
These investments in education and conservation complement Hershey's Income Accelerator announced today and collectively advance the objectives set in Côte d'Ivoire's National Strategy for Sustainable Cocoa. All three initiatives work together to create a more sustainable cocoa supply chain and counteract the interrelated issues of farmer poverty, child labor, and deforestation.
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