Saving The Future of Chocolate as Climate Change Threatens

The future of chocolate is in doubt as climate change threatens the productivity of cocoa farming in West Africa – prompting the University of Birmingham to bring together a trio of experts to discuss how to save the world’s favourite Easter treat.

Hosted by the Forum for Global Challenges, the free webinar The Future of Chocolate: Climate-Smart Cocoa in Ghana will see the panel discuss how cocoa – one of the world’s most important commodities – can be produced sustainably and benefit local communities.

People across the world can be part of the webinar – registration is free at

The temperature range that cocoa beans grow well in is very narrow – small changes in temperature and changes in weather patterns threaten the productivity of cocoa farming – impacting the future of chocolate and the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers.

Ghana is the world’s second largest producer of cocoa beans. As well as cocoa being threatened by climate change, the tree crop is one of the main drivers of deforestation in the country.

The expert panel will consist of:

·         Dr. Emmanuel Opoku, Deputy CEO, Ghana Cocoa Board

·         Yaw Kwakye, Manager of Forest Services Division, Forestry Commission of Ghana

·         Ethan Budiansky, Director of Environment, World Cocoa Foundation

·         Dr. Rebecca Ashley Asare, Director of Programmes & Research, Nature Conservation Research Centre Ghana

The panel discussion will share the story of how applied research and working with a range of interested parties led to the creation of a climate-smart cocoa production pathway, the first-ever commodity-based emission reductions program, and a corporate commitment from global cocoa and chocolate companies to a no-deforestation supply chain.

Professor Hisham Mehanna, Director of the Institute for Global Innovation at the University of Birmingham, commented: “Whether you are a student of the environment and development, or simply a lover of chocolate this event aims to spark a rich discussion about how one of the world’s most important global commodities can be produced sustainably and foster local to global benefits.”

The Forum for Global Challenges launched in January – kick-starting an online community allowing contributors around the world to build evidence, ideas and momentum before the Forum meets for the first time in May 2022.

The Forum will hold a bi-annual conference with the first event being held in Birmingham from 2 to 4 May 2022, ahead of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games – find out more at  

It will consider the challenge areas of ‘Climate and Environment’ and ‘Inequalities’, panel members will analyse the green economy; restoring nature; future cities and mobility, whilst also examining food security; lifelong education; heath & wellbeing; and digital access.

Professor Hisham Mehanna added: “Multiple challenges face the world today, from climate change and nature loss to persistent inequality and, of course, the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Interdisciplinary research can have a transformative impact on the most vulnerable people. The IGI is already seeing success in areas such as in water, cities and transnational crime, inspiring us to establish the Forum for Global Challenges and open the door to new opportunities that will help make our planet a fairer, better home for everyone.”