Organized by Proforest, the Government of Ghana, the Meridian Institute and the TFA 2020 Secretariat, the workshop was attended by representatives from Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone. At the workshop, government, private sector and civil society figures from all nine countries agreed to develop a set of regional principles to guide responsible oil palm development in West and Central Africa.
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At the opening session, Ghana's Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan, said that it was important that palm oil refiners, manufacturers and other actors come together to find ways of reducing the likely negative impacts and increase its benefits.
“We believe this can be done by joining forces with allies who share the same vision and who are ready to forge strategic, mutually beneficial partnerships to work towards set goals,” he said.
“Oil palm development is about our people, our livelihood, heritage, our economy and ultimately our legacy."
Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan
He added, “Oil palm development is about our people, our livelihood, heritage, our economy and ultimately our legacy. We don’t owe its sustainable growth only to the over six million people whose livelihood depends on it, or the consumers all over the world whose lives a better because of the oil palm but to posterity.”
About The Africa Palm Oil Initiative
The Africa Palm Oil Initiative is a signature initiative of TFA 2020. Its vision is a prosperous palm oil industry, which brings jobs and wealth to local communities in a way that is environmentally and socially sustainable and protects the rich tropical forests of the region. It works by building partnerships between governments, producers and civil society to agree and implement national and regional principles for responsible practice across the whole palm oil sector in the region.
Since its inception in 2015, three countries – Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana – have joined TFA 2020 as full partners and have developed national principles and action plans for responsible palm oil production, which they are now about to start implementing. The governments of three further countries – Cameroon, Gabon, Nigeria – have officially endorsed the Initiative and will start to develop their national principles. And now, Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone have expressed a strong desire to engage with the Initiative – a growing movement for responsible palm oil production in the region.
Workshop achievements and next steps
At the workshop, delegates agreed on a draft set of themes to serve as the foundation for the regional principles. They also shared ideas and experiences from the region on promoting low carbon development and deforestation-free palm oil production and explored major issues and challenges in the palm oil sector in the region.
This is just the beginning: country will now continue to develop and implement their national principles and action plans whilst supporting the regional process. The delegates agreed to a timeline for a series of national and regional workshops through 2016 in order to continue to develop the regional principles. The aim is to sign a Regional Accord at the UN Climate Change conference in Marrakech in November.