Africa Palm Oil Initiative 2021 regional meeting: progress updates and looking ahead to COP26
The TFA Africa Palm Oil Initiative regional meeting was different in 2021 – the first remote meeting since the APOI started. Working through technology issues, time zone differences and power outages the APOI collective team of 10 African countries*, government representatives from many countries, palm oil companies, partners and global financial institutions successfully joined forces for two remote sessions to discuss the APOI’s progress so far, and to feed into the COP26 Nature Campaign and associated Forests, Agriculture and Commodity Trade (FACT) Government to Government Dialogue Process. The meetings were organised by the Tropical Forest Alliance, Meridian Institute and Proforest.
- Day 1 saw the 10 countries showcase their successes, working in groups to workshop next steps to their National Platforms’ sustainability plans, mapping stakeholders and discussing the investment models needed to get there. Participants shared the accomplishments of the TFA APOI, the importance of engaging with smallholder farmers in the process and how the intersection of food production, environmental protection, and rural development contributes to robust livelihoods. The workshop was framed as an opportunity for everyone to share experiences, successes, lessons learned, and look towards strengthening the investment case for Africa’s agricultural sector as an engine for sustainable growth.
- Day 2 formed the TFA Africa Palm Oil Initiative COP26 Regional Consultation: drawing the framing from day 1 which is the need for investment in programmes in the region and the importance of engaging smallholders. The outcomes of this meeting will help make the case for strengthening the palm oil sector in Africa to empower its smallholder farmers — to boost economic opportunities for people and communities that live and work in forested landscapes in the region, while protecting the region’s tropical forests.
Some of the day’s discussions were related to the need to support the coordination of smallholders for them to be able to access the market and the need for collaboration from the private sector, NGOs, and government which requires long-term commitment. Banks and financial institutions have a critical role to play, and the public sector must provide an adequate framework and create guarantees on investments. The UK government’s CoP26 team were able to benefit from this knowledge to discuss exactly what policies and practices work on the ground, and what future mix of company commitment, legislation and incentives can further the cause of sustainable production of palm oil and other commodities in the region.
All the input from this meeting was captured to feed into the FACT Dialogue, and the group will continue to be engaged in the months leading up to COP26 to continue to define the real interventions needed in Africa to support smallholders.
A full report of the meetings is available here.
*Ghana, Liberia, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, Edo State of Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire.