Report of the first Meeting of the Roundtable Pre-Working Group

14 November 2007

Opening of meeting

1. The Executive Director welcomed participants to the first meeting of the Round Table Pre-Working Group. He informed them that the aim of the meeting was to start preliminary discussions leading to the establishment of the actual Working Group for the next Round Table meeting and to agree on follow-up action to the first Round Table meeting held in Accra on 3-6 October 2007.

Adoption of agenda

2. The draft agenda was adopted with the addition of an item on "An Assessment of the Accra Round Table Meeting".

Appointment of a Technical Chairman for the Round Table Pre-Working Group

3. Mr. Tony Lass MBE was unanimously appointed Chairman of the Round Table Pre-Working Group.

An Assessment of the Accra Round Table Meeting

4. The Group was unanimous in its appraisal that the Accra Round Table meeting had been very constructive and that had resulted in a very positive and encouraging consensus document. It was noted that this had been achieved despite different levels of understanding of the participants on concepts and subjects such as poverty alleviation, sustainability, common codes, principles and criteria for sustainability, a multi-stakeholder process etc. The content of the Accra Agenda was considered a very good starting point for elaborating principles and standards for the different stakeholders.

5. It was agreed that much more work needed to be done. This work would include the development of guiding principles, including for transparency throughout the process, and compliance with international law. From there, the Round Table would have to discuss how to proceed towards standards, and/or criteria and/or indicators and/or to address the issue of certification.

6. The Group identified several issues emanating from the meeting in Accra which would need attention in the near future. These issues were: the relationship between "mainstream" and "niche" cocoas and the way the Round Table would want to deal with that; the position and role of the ICCO in the future process, in view of the need for openness and independence of the Round Table process; and the need to ensure all actors are included in the multi-stakeholder process. For clarity, it was agreed that this Round Table activity was directed towards mainstream cocoa production and was not intended for this activity to develop a new "niche cocoa."

7. Several participants in the meeting emphasized the importance of the role of governments of producer countries in achieving a sustainable world cocoa economy, given among others that cocoa was pre-dominantly a smallholder crop. In this context, the importance of action by civil society was also underlined, as they aim to support the weakest segments in society. 

8. The question of the interaction between  form (structure/organization) and function was discussed, as had been the case for other commodity initiatives (for example soya). The meeting agreed that function should have priority over form. In other words, structure and organization should be derived from the process of efforts to achieve a sustainable cocoa economy. 

9. The Group acknowledged that the Accra Agenda called for a follow-up Round Table meeting in the autumn of 2008. This required urgent action to maintain the excellent momentum achieved in Accra and to prepare for the follow-up meeting. In this respect, it was noted that the preparatory process for the next meeting would have to take into account what is already being done in the area of a sustainable cocoa economy and that, in this context, agreement would be needed on the actions required by the different stakeholders to move forward. The aim of the next meeting would have to be clearly determined and a first attempt would have to be made to establish standards for sustainability. Objectives and standards would have to be discussed in a very concrete way.

Procedures and Arrangements for the follow-up to the Accra Meeting

10. The Executive Director of the ICCO presented a note on this subject, which had been distributed. In his presentation, he proposed a Working Group be established for the Round Table on Sustainable Cocoa (RTSC), which would function independently from the ICCO. The functioning of the Working Group would be facilitated by the ICCO Secretariat. In line with the proposals made, the Pre-Working group decided on the following: 

  • the Pre-Working group proposes an (initial) composition of the Working Group, while the Working Group itself determines its final composition; 
  • the Working Group could elect its own Chairperson(s) and decides on its rules and procedures; 
  • the Chairman of the Consultative Board of ICCO will be invited to become a Member of the Working Group, while the Executive Director of ICCO will attend the meetings of the Working Group as an Observer in his capacity as facilitating the work of the Working Group; 
  • the Members of the Working Group will report to their own constituencies, implying that the Chairman of the Consultative Board of ICCO reports to the Board and that the Executive Director of ICCO reports to the Council; 
  • the ICCO will make meeting facilities available for the Group and the ICCO Secretariat will function as the Secretariat for the Group;
  • additional manpower would have to be made available to the ICCO Secretariat if the Working Group wishes to work with sub-groups (via the web) and to interact intensively with stakeholders, in general; 
  • the ICCO Council would have to agree on the above procedures and arrangements, taking into account that resources under the prerogative of the Council are to be made available. 

11. It was furthermore agreed that the Chairman of the Consultative Board would present to the Board the possibility to admit selected NGOs as observers to the meetings of the Consultative Board, with reference to the Rules and Regulations of the Board.

Mandate and Composition of the Round Table Working Group

12. The mandate of the Working Group would be to make all the preparations for the next Round Table meeting, including: 

  • substantive preparations, including development of standards, progressively to be adhered to by stakeholders and possibly indicators and on initial system of verification;
  • responsibility for the logistical arrangements; and  
  • development of ideas on the long-term format and status of the Round Table.

 The Pre-Working Group shared the view that the Working Group should limit its focus to such matters of preparation for the Round Table and be advised not to conduct substantive discussions as regards the substance related to sustainable cocoa. Such discussions will take place at the Round Table itself.

13. The following indicative list on the composition of the Working Group emanated from the deliberations by the Group: 

  • i) The Spokesperson for Producers and the Spokesperson for Consumers; 
  • ii) Oxfam International and another NGO (possibly the World Wide Fund for Nature);  
  • iii) Trade and Industry Associations: CAOBISCO, ECA, WCF, FCC, CICC (Cameroon) and the Cocoa Association of Nigeria; 
  • iv) Governments from cocoa producing and consuming countries: Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana; Ecuador, Malaysia, and the Netherlands and/or the European Commission; and 
  • v) The Chairman of the ICCO Consultative Board on the World Cocoa Economy.

 Next Steps

14. In view of a recent indication that Trinidad & Tobago might wish to host a future ICCO meeting, the Pre-Working group requested the Executive Director to explore this possible option.

Any Other Business 

15. The Executive Director was requested to prepare a draft budget for the preparations towards the next Round Table meeting. 

Date and place of the next meeting 

16. It was agreed that the Secretariat would arrange for a conference call during Week 2 of 2008, should the need for consultations arise.