The governments of seven African palm oil producing countries, representing over 70 per cent of Africa’s tropical forest, will thursday declare a joint pledge to prioritise sustainable palm oil development with support from some of the world’s largest producers, buyers and traders of palm oil.
The Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 (TFA 2020) Marrakesh Declaration for the Sustainable Development of the oil palm sector in Africa is expected to be signed by the governments of the Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Liberia, the Republic of Congo, and Sierra Leone at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP22) in Morocco.
The Ministers of Agriculture and Environment of the respective countries expected to sign the pledge would agree to place sustainability, human rights and collaboration with industry, indigenous peoples and civil society groups at the heart of the expanding palm oil industry in Africa.
A statement explained that large companies, palm oil producers, NGOs and human rights groups who are partners of the TFA 2020 welcomed the move.
The secretariat of the TFA 2020 is hosted at the World Economic Forum.
Collectively, the countries who signed the declaration represent over 250 million hectares – 13 per cent of the world’s tropical forest. However, deforestation from unsustainable palm oil production causes extensive carbon emissions and contributes to global warming.
Palm oil is the most widely used vegetable oil worldwide and about half of all packaged products sold in supermarkets contain palm oil, according to the World Wildlife Fund. It fuels a $50 billion global industry, which is projected to rise to $88 billion a year by 2022.
As demand grows, Africa is the next growth spot for palm oil production.
The Head of Public-Private Partnerships at the World Economic Forum, Dominic Waughray, said the declaration showed how the commitments made by global businesses to remove deforestation from palm oil supply chains were changing the global market.
“These governments recognise the significant market signal that global businesses are providing through their desire to source sustainable palm oil at scale. Through this unprecedented agreement, the African Palm Oil Initiative – with support from the private sector and civil society through the platform of the TFA– is now well- positioned to build a multi-country market for sustainable palm oil across West and Central Africa that will improve smallholder incomes and drive greater action on tropical deforestation,” he said.
Unilever, a major buyer of palm oil, also welcomed the move.
“Palm oil, if produced sustainably, can play a key role in poverty alleviation by helping farmers thrive economically while adopting sustainable agricultural and business practices. I am pleased that these countries are demonstrating their commitment to sustainable palm oil by signing the Marrakesh Declaration,” the Chief Executive Officer, Unilever, Paul Polman said.