5 November 2021

Five Years of Progress towards Sustainable Palm Oil in Africa at CoP26


Five Years of Progress towards Sustainable Palm Oil in Africa at CoP26

African Governments give statements of progress since CoP22, Marrakesh; with investment and action required to support sustainable development and climate mitigation 

November 5, 2021, Glasgow – On November 6, ministers and high-level representatives from seven African countries will give a statement of progress in the development of a sustainable palm oil industry in Africa. Marking five years since the signing of the ‘Marrakesh Declaration for Sustainable Development of the Palm Oil Sector’, governments will share milestones in the implementation of commitments made at CoP22 in Morocco in 2016, while highlighting the international action and financial investment required for future development. 

Under the Marrakesh Declaration, governments committed to principles of sustainable development of the sector and protecting forests; good governance, partnership and transparency; while ensuring social benefits for farmers and protecting community and human rights. The declaration acknowledges the role of agricultural commodity development as a driver of deforestation, while emphasizing the critical role of forests and forest conservation in addressing climate change.

Tomorrow, Nature Day at CoP26, each minister will present a statement of progress, including establishing governance for international investment; applying the principles to other commodities, such as cocoa; inclusion of marginalised groups; and investment in smallholders to boost productivity. The countries have adopted tools and approaches such as Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) guidelines, with some securing government validation and legal backing of FPIC for all indigenous people and communities for land use and commodity production.

Africa produces 3.5% of the world’s oil palm yet consumes 10%. Governments have recognised the potential for growth in production to meet increasing global demand, and to contribute to food security and better livelihoods for millions of Africans, while protecting the region’s remaining rainforests. Diversification of food production also provides resilience, helping to offset the impact of climate change.

The declaration has been implemented through the Tropical Forest Alliance’s African Palm Oil Initiative (APOI), comprised of ten countries in West and Central Africa: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Edo State (Nigeria), Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone. These countries are at the frontier of palm oil development and account for 75% of Africa’s forests.

“From Marrakesh to Glasgow, we have seen governments take action, engage with communities, partner with the private sector, and make real progress towards sustainable palm oil development in Africa,” said Abraham Baffoe, Global Director and Africa Director of Proforest, which manages the APOI platform. “As we move into the next five years, the focus will be to galvanise further action that delivers more impact on the ground in the production landscapes for people, nature and the climate. There is a real opportunity to work together to continue the transition to sustainable palm oil development in West and Central Africa.”

Sharing a roadmap for the future, ministers and partners will discuss the need for financial investment and private sector engagement, as well as the opportunity to include other commodities under the Marrakesh Declaration. This will provide a roadmap of activity towards CoP27 in Africa, ensuring a continued focus on the impact of climate change on agricultural commodity production.

“The African Palm Oil Initiative is a truly multi-stakeholder platform, providing a framework for governments to engage with local communities and private sector, while giving companies a channel to fulfil their commitments to reduce commodity-driven deforestation,” said Justin Adams, Executive Director of the Tropical Forest Alliance. “Our shared vision is for a prosperous African palm oil industry that brings jobs and wealth to local communities in a way that is environmentally and socially sustainable and mitigates climate change by protecting nature and the rich tropical forests of the region.”