Private sector launches coconut industry's first sustainability charter

November 16, 2020
Credit: Green Invest Asia

With support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Green Invest Asia, implemented by Pact, private sector leaders signed the coconut industry’s first global Sustainable Coconut Charter, which aims to improve farmer livelihoods,  lessen the carbon footprint of coconuts and boost supply to meet rising global demand.

AAK, Barry Callebaut, FrieslandCampina, Harmless Harvest Thailand, Nestlé, and Unilever are founding signatories of an industry collaboration that defines coconut sustainability, and outlines focus areas, principles and sustainability program goals/ outcomes in coconut supply chains. It also aims to harmonize buyers’ requirements for supply chain partners.

Coconut consumption continues to grow globally, increasing its profile as a safe food alternative, but year-on-year rising demand risks emptying shelves of hundreds of coconut and coconut-oil-based products. Wide use of coconut in cosmetic, food and beverage, and pharmaceutical industries has driven rapid growth of the global coconut market. One key challenge is how to replant — sustainably — millions of coconut palms that are senile, or too old, to produce coconuts.

“The charter is an important milestone on the way to improving coconut cultivation and farmer livelihoods. I am pleased we have succeeded in bringing together key players and stakeholders at one table. This is a challenge that must be tackled together to be successful, said Massimo Selmo, Barry Callebaut’s Global Head of Sourcing.

“We are proud to have supported this valuable charter,” said Dr. Steven G. Olive, Mission Director of USAID’s Regional Development Mission for Asia. “The U.S. government prioritizes working through the private sector to catalyze market reform and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that warm our climate. Guiding tools, such as this charter, create a landscape approach for sustainability in Asia. USAID stands ready to scale this initiative and look forward to more signatories joining.” USAID has supported this effort through Green Invest Asia, which helps agriculture and forestry businesses in Southeast Asia improve the sustainability and environmental stewardship of their operations by connecting them with like-minded investors and reducing barriers to investment.

As early adopters, a separate Public-Private Partnership (PPP) between six companies and the German Development Agency (GIZ) has already committed to implement the Charter to improve sustainability in the Philippines’ coconut supply chain, said Matthias Radek, GIZ’s Chief Advisor of Agricultural Projects.

Mathieu Chaumont from Harmless Harvest, a U.S.-headquartered company that sells organic coconut water, ran a panel explaining how regenerative agriculture improves soil quality and combats global warming, one potential solution to safely boost dwindling coconut supply without increasing the nut’s carbon footprint or threat to biodiversity.

Any individual/organization committed to the charter’s ambitions and principles, and willing to contribute to the on-going development of more sustainable practices in the coconut industry, including attending an annual roundtable consultation,  is invited to be a signatory. For more information, contact @email, or please visit