Image: Marufish via flickr
We know how destructive the palm oil industry in Indonesia and Malaysia, so it was great news when the World Bank announced that social and environmental safeguards would serve as guiding principles in its lending to the palm oil sector. Mongabay.com reports the World Bank said it would try to "support smallholders and foster benefit sharing with rural communities," but that palm oil lobbying groups World Growth International and the Initiative for Public Policy Analysis (IPPA) attacked the Bank for doing so.
The latter group issued a press release saying: "The Bank's new framework for palm oil engagement elevates radical ideological opposition to agriculture development above the needs of the poor and hungry in Africa"—a position some are spinning as the Bank saying the environment is more important than African farmers.
More on the current debate from mongabay.com:
World Growth International has been criticized for misrepresenting information in its reports and press releases. It has misattributed statements from scientists and Wangaari Maathai, a Nobel Prize winning environmentalists. The group has made inaccurate claims about the environmental performance of palm oil and it was recently rebuked by Indonesia's largest palm oil company, Golden Agri Resources (GAR), after World Growth International chairman Alan Oxley claimed the company's new forest policy would hurt its business...
In response to IPPA's remarks, an IFC spokesperson told mongabay.com: "The World Bank Group's new framework for palm oil acknowledges that palm oil can be an important contributor to growth and economic development and to overcoming poverty, provided it is produced in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner... Our new integrated approach prioritizes initiatives to support smallholders. It will help to strengthen smallholder producer organizations by promoting their access to finance and markets, improving their agronomy practices and productivity, and fostering fair contractual arrangements with larger companies."
More on palm oil and climate change
Indonesia to Allow More Palm Oil From Peat Lands: Watch Greenhouse Gas Emissions Go Through the Roof
Malaysia and Indonesia To Expand Domestic Palm Oil Biodiesel as Commodity Price Drops
More Dirty Deforestation: 55% of Indonesia's Logging Illegal + Cargill's Two Hidden Palm Oil Plantations