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 We need more support for sustainable palm oil

20.03.2019 (Financial Times) -     Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles. Copying articles to share with others is a breach of T&Cs and Copyright Policy. Email to buy additional rights. Subscribers may share up to 10 or 20 articles per month using the gift article service.

A ban on palm oil as advocated by Iceland Foods (“Against the grain”, March 15) will not stop deforestation, nor help improve the livelihoods of millions of smallholders in the industry. Instead, we in Europe must champion more ethical production, driven by retailers and manufacturers increasing the market demand, plus give more support to smallholders and governments to help in the transition.

Buying sustainable palm oil will support producers that are working in a way that is legal, economically viable, environmentally conscious and socially beneficial. Farmers, on their own, will not be able to change the industry. Governments in producing countries such as Indonesia need our support too, to create incentives and action plans.

For their part, EU28 governments can drive policies to support the shift and set an example for other large importing markets, such as India and China. Europe is still far off from the commitment to the 100 per cent sustainable palm oil target for 2020 made by industry and government alike (including the UK).

We therefore call on the private sector, governments, and non-governmental organisations to step up action to help achieve this goal. We need more support for sustainable palm oil, not less.


Daan Wensing

Global Landscape Programme Director,

IDH — The Sustainable Trade Initiative,

Utrecht, The Netherlands