A landmark moment for sustainable commodity production and responsible sourcing came last November when seven African governments publicly signed the Marrakesh Declaration for the Sustainable Development of the Oil Palm Sector in Africa. The pledge to place sustainability, good governance, and the recognition of community and human rights at the heart of the expanding palm oil industry in Africa took place at COP22 in Morocco.
It was the latest achievement in the work of the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 (TFA 2020) Africa Palm Oil Initiative (APOI), which has been coordinated by Proforest since 2015. Since its inception in 2014 this exciting initiative aimed at addressing deforestation in the oil palm sector has made significant progress, including engaging with ten Africa producer countries, eight of whom are now members of the TFA 2020 global partnership, and working with a wide range of stakeholders at both national and regional level to develop mutually-agreed principles for sustainable palm oil. All of which culminated with seven Africa governments making a clear public declaration to sustainability by signing the Marrakesh Declaration at COP22.
But, this is just the beginning.
The long-term vision of the TFA 2020 APOI is to deliver real impact on the ground by supporting national governments to implement the principles endorsed in Marrakesh. And now, following the progress and successes of the last two years, the TFA 2020 APOI has secured the funding and support needed to enter the implementation phase to deliver on the commitments made in Marrakesh.
The British government’s Department for International Development (DFID) has agreed to support the programme across ten African palm oil producer countries, through their Partnerships for Forest programme. The partners will work together to:
- Build and strengthen public-private partnerships for responsible palm oil production
- Finalise the national principles and action plans in the producer countries.
- Work on national palm oil platforms in ten countries.
- Implement the national actions plans.
- Promote regional harmony, learning, and monitoring to support the regional palm oil platform.
The APOI works through forming public-private partnerships aimed at delivering responsible development that addresses deforestation in the oil palm sector. Inclusivity is key to the success of the process, which to-date has brought together government departments, private sector producers, traders and buyers, as well as local and international NGOs and community and indigenous groups – all working towards a common goal.
Recently, country teams from Liberia, Côte D’Ivoire and Ghana met with a wide number of partners at the World Economic Forum in Geneva to discuss implementation in their respective countries. As the other producer countries develop their actions plans similar partnership dialogues are planned.
The APOI’s vision is for a prosperous palm oil industry that balances economic development with social and environmental sustainability, whilst protecting the rich tropical forests of the region.
The outcomes could be transformative: protecting critical natural resources, delivering economic and social benefits for smallholder farmers and local communities, and recognizing and respecting community and the indigenous people’s rights. And the work to implement this vision starts now.