14 May 2012—At a ceremony held in Abidjan on 9 May, the Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire, H.E. Mr Jeannot Ahoussou-Kouadio (pictured right), officially launched the ICCO’s World Cocoa Conference, due to take place in the city in November.
The 250 guests at the launch ceremony–from the Ivorian government, the Diplomatic service, the cocoa industry, civil society and the press–also heard expressions of support by the Governor of the Abidjan District and the Minister of Agriculture, and presentations by Mr Rafael Jaén Tapiola, the Chairman of the International Cocoa Council and from ICCO Executive Director Dr Jean-Marc Anga.
The Prime Minister said that his Government considered it “an honour and a privilege to host this Conference,” which is scheduled for 19-23 November at the city’s Hotel Ivoire. The event will be the first global cocoa forum to bring together all the significant stakeholders in the cocoa value chain to discuss and take action on the most serious issues affecting the trade and industry. “The Government will spare no effort to make sure that this Conference will be held under the best conditions and will be a resounding success,” the Prime Minister added, and invited all stakeholders to attend the meetings in November.
In the presence as well of the Ivorian Ministers of Labour, Industry and Trade, Mr Jaén explained that, beyond leading to a better understanding of the viewpoints of cocoa stakeholders, the Conference would produce an action plan to take the industry forward in a sustainable way, and would demonstrate clear concrete and measurable actions to address the problems of cocoa.
Dr Anga’s presentation pointed out a number of key structural problems in the cocoa value chain, which would need to be addressed at the Conference in order for the sustainable development of the industry to proceed, and he identified the serious issues that had prompted the ICCO to organize the WCC in November. He concluded that he expected key relevant parties to sign a Commitment of Stakeholders at the closing ceremony of the Conference.
Covered by the international and regional press, the launch ceremony was the basis of a major story on Ivorian national television, as well as reports in the leading newspapers in Abidjan and elsewhere in West Africa.
Ivorian President H.E. Dr Alassane Ouattara will officially open the World Cocoa Conference in the presence of his peers in the region, and it is expected to be attended by government, industry and civil society representatives concerned with cocoa from all over the world. There are more details of the Conference on the WCC website www.worldcocoaconference.org.