As Hurricane Irma pummels the Caribbean Islands, my thoughts and prayers are with the small holding farmers whose crops will be totally destroyed. During my trips to Haiti, I met a number of local cacao growers who provide raw materials to various multi-national corporations. Needless to say, when the supply chain is interrupted by ever-increasing extreme weather patterns, the chocolate industry is severely impacted. The African drought is having the same catastrophic effect, as well. Climate science suggests the dilemma will only get worse. While it’s important for governments to engage and address issues involving climate change, it will – no doubt - be the private sector that affects the transformational changes needed to reverse the trend.
In a September 6 on-line posting, Business Insider reported that the British chocolate giant, Mars Corporation, has decided to set aside $1 billion to fight climate change. CEO Grant Reid has indicated that the consequences of doing nothing will lead only to the further global calamity. Mars is upfront. They are a food business, based on agriculture. Their primary concern is the supply of raw materials required to support their $35 billion dollar business. This investment is being done to protect profits. At the same time, they are beginning to realize that their own future requires reducing the company’s carbon footprint by 60%, and challenge other corporations to see the same handwriting-on-the-wall by following their lead.
Even though I continue to have serious issues with the multi-national companies who drive the cacao industry (particularly their exploitation of child labor) the Mars Cacao Sustainable Initiative is perhaps the most encouraging sign of environmental action to date.