The report Palm Oil Paradox: Sustainable Solutions to Save the Great Apes is the result of a two-year study of palm oil development in Southeast Asia, and the steps required to ensure that the loss of biodiversity that occurred in that region is not repeated as the crop expands into Africa. Palm Oil Paradox was produced by U.N. Environment through the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP), the alliance of 105 national governments, conservation organizations, research institutions, U.N. agencies and private companies committed to ensuring the long-term survival of great apes and their habitat.
Among the report’s key recommendations are the placement of “certified” sustainable oil palm plantations close to great ape habitats in order to minimize irresponsible production, and the designation of “no-go” zones set aside for priority ape populations. “This report recognizes that palm oil is here to stay and the hardline boycotts are unlikely to achieve success,” said GRASP coordinator Doug Cress. Palm Oil Paradox makes it clear that finding common ground with oil palm developers makes sense.” Palm Oil Paradox advocates for multi-stakeholder planning processes that include environmental experts at the earliest stages, along with strictly enforced “no-kill” policies and environmental teams that monitor, manage and protect great apes and high conservation value (HCV) forests.
Dr. Marc Ancrenaz is the lead editor of the report, and has worked in great ape conservation in Asia and Africa for over three decades. “There are so many lessons to be learned from the cultivation of palm oil in Southeast Asia, not just mistakes, but successes too, and we believe it is crucial that those lessons be carried over into Africa,” Ancrenaz said. “We also felt it was important to address many of the misperceptions regarding the palm oil industry, and suggest a new dialogue that finds ways to collaborate with an industry that will only grow bigger in the years to come. The conservation of orangutans and biodiversity is our first priority, but it’s clear we need a fresh perspective if we’re going to achieve our goals in the years ahead.”
MVO support the findings of the U.N. report and will use its key messages to plea for more sustainable palm oil during its contact with civil society, governments, industry and other stakeholders in the palm oil supply chain.