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A year of big commitments 
A very happy belated new year to all of you! We leave behind a year of uncertainties and difficult times where nonetheless great things have happened in the #livingincome scene. We are glad to have kept the engagement with you through our three virtual workshops and excited about the upcoming opportunities.
 
We have already heard big news from retailers such as Unilever and  Nestle. Ben & Jerry's is working with Fairtrade and has committed to paying farmers a living income for their cocoa beans. With a joint statement, German development minister Dr. Gerd Müller and Dutch foreign trade minister Sigrid Kaag set a sign for living incomes and wages in a virtual meeting on Jan. 27, 2021. Among other things, both countries will advocate to include living wages and living incomes in EU policy discussion on human rights due diligence.

Country platforms are increasingly aligning, the Dutch Sustainable Cocoa Initiative (DISCO) has joined the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa (GISCO), the Swiss Platform for Sustainable Cocoa (SWISSCO) and the Belgian initiative "Beyond Chocolate" for more transparency and sustainability in the cocoa sector. Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire instituted a new system of pricing that they refer to as the Living Income Differential, adding a per ton cost to the FOB price for cocoa, in an effort to stabilize market volatility and bring more value to farmers. The system went into operation for 2020-21 cocoa contracts. 

We are optimistic about 2021 and we are committed to contributing our part. Below, a bit more on what we and others are doing. This quarter, we focus on cocoa, a supply chain that is experiencing big changes. Enjoy!
Spotlight - A common approach to living income in the cocoa sector
The LI CoP has worked with the cocoa and chocolate sector over the last four years on deepening the understanding of farmers’ costs of living, the use of living income benchmarks and data to understand income gaps.  The organizations facilitating the LI CoP - ISEAL, GIZ and Sustainable Food Lab - have deep and varied connections with cocoa certification organizations, industry and producing and consuming governments. Our joint role as co-hosts of the Living Income Community of Practice is to support dialogue on the core challenges related to farmer livelihoods and share knowledge and tools on concepts and effective strategies. 
Living Income was a consistent theme of the 2020 World Cocoa Foundation Partnership Meeting, which highlighted the topic and included members of the Living Income Community of Practice. What's next for the dialogue on Living Income? We have heard commitments from stakeholders but how we work further to help farmers achieve a living income? 

A number of critical studies have been recently published regarding living income, including The VOICE Network publishing the Cocoa Barometer 2020 and the paper from WUR and Mondelez on No Silver Bullets: Closing the $10 billion income gap in cocoa calls for cross-sector action
Improving cocoa farmers access to financial services, putting in place plans that support farmers improve their productivity, regulating the system so is fair and make companies accountable, creating an enabling environment for farmers, with inclusive partnerships, working on pricing, developing strategies to stimulate income diversification and making sure we invest in farmers climate resiliency are some key recommendations that have been recently highlighted.   
We provide ongoing support to the Alliance for Living Income in Cocoa (comprised of GISCO, DISCO, Beyond Chocolate, SWISSCO, WCF, VOICE and the LI CoP with ICCO as observer) in developing common language in order to have a systemic strategy to improve livelihoods towards prosperity.  GIZ co-chairs the Ivory Coast Living Income Working Group,  ISEAL is part of the Beyond Chocolate income working group, and we have given presentations on living income at recent events including the Swiss Platform on Sustainable Cocoa Annual Meeting,  ICCO Consultative Board Special Meeting on living income, Workshop on Prices for the German Sustainable Cocoa Initiative and the World Cocoa Foundation Partnership meeting. We continue to provide support to individual community members and support members as they participate in the sector dialogues such as the European Union Dialogue on Sustainable Cocoa, which includes living income as one focus area. 
The Sustainable Food Lab, on behalf of the LI CoP, is coordinating an effort by the cocoa and chocolate industry to co-invest in robust, third party cost of living data.  Led by the team at Olam Cocoa, SFL developed a consortium funding approach of their industry peers with the GLWC, Anker  Research Network, and the LI CoP. This innovative collaboration has led to the updating of the Cote d'Ivoire living income benchmark, the publication of four new Living Income Reference Values for rural areas of CameroonNigeriaPapua New Guinea, and Peru, and forthcoming regional living income estimates for cocoa growing regions of Brazil.  In addition to Olam Cocoa, financial support was provided by Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate, Lindt & Sprungli, Mars Wrigley Confectionery, Mondelēz International, Nestlé, and The Hershey Company. 
Featured content - Measuring the Living Income gap
The Community of Practice has actively worked in improving and publishing new resources that explore the topic of actual income, living income and gap measurement. FAQ: In an ideal world, we would have robust living income benchmarks for each of our specific sourcing areas or project sites. While we are building the ideal world, we want to share some guidance to get started. This Frequently Asked Questions is designed to help LI CoP members understand, find and use living income benchmarks and alternative intermediary income targets.
The LiCop ambition in 2021
We keep committed to building awareness about the concept of living income and providing clarity on measuring living income gaps. A series of quarterly introductory webinars and sector-focused podcasts are being planned. We are also building a FAQ and short technical sessions to explore how to use guidance in practice and helping you navigate them better. 

Finally, we want to build a practical understanding of how to close the income gap bringing in best practices, showcasing concrete examples of progress. In this context, we have a specific workstream for sustainability systems and we are going to launch a working group dedicated to them. 

Contact us at livingincome@isealalliance.org if you are interested in sharing what you are doing or need support in any of these areas. 
Relevant resources
LinkedIn Group
LinkedIn Group
Living Income Website
Living Income Website
Living Income Inbox
Living Income Inbox
This community of practice is a result of a partnership between The Sustainable Food Lab, GIZ and the ISEAL Alliance. Visit the Living Income website for more information.​






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