United Nations Secretary General Celebrates Commitments by Wilmar and Kellogg to Deforestation-Free Palm Oil

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, had some positive words to say about the recent palm oil policy announcements by Kellogg and Wilmar and other industry leaders. Said Ki-moon, “I welcome these announcements to buy palm oil from deforestation-free, peat-free and exploitation-free sources. Such actions have the potential to transform the entire palm oil industry, with considerable positive implications for our efforts to combat climate change, protect biodiversity and promote social justice.”

The whole United Nations press release is below the jump. 

19 February — International efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation are gaining as more countries and companies are moving to curtail activities that contribute to the loss of natural forests.

UNDP Deputy Assistant Administrator Magdy Martinez-Soliman, in a briefing to UN member states, said he was hopeful that a number of the presidents and prime ministers attending UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Climate Summit this September may announce ambitious new initiatives to reduce deforestation or restore degraded forest lands.

“We stand at a unique and critical moment in time in terms of the potential to achieve real and tangible reductions in emissions,” Martinez-Soliman said. He added that major multilateral initiatives were already making progress in supporting forest countries to get ready for REDD+, an initiative to reduce deforestation and land degradation undertaken by governments supported by many UN agencies and international organizations.

More recently, he said, there have been very promising private sector commitments to deforestation-free supply chains and public-private partnerships to facilitate these commitments. Martinez-Soliman said hundreds of companies have made groundbreaking commitments, led by the Consumer Goods Forum’s pledge, announced in November 2010, to achieve zero deforestation by 2020. This involves addressing critically important elements of supply chains that are significant drivers of deforestation, such as palm oil, beef, soy, paper and pulp. The Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 is another growing public-private alliance working to reduce deforestation.

In December, Wilmar International, one of the world’s biggest palm oil companies, committed to “sustainable” sourcing of the commodity. It said it would “establish mechanisms to ensure that both Wilmar’s own plantations and companies from which Wilmar sources will only provide products that are free from links to deforestation or abuse of human rights and local communities.”

And on Friday 14 February, Kellogg, the world’s leading cereal company, announced a global commitment “to work with palm oil suppliers to source fully traceable palm oil, produced in a manner that’s environmentally responsible, socially beneficial, and economically viable.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said “I welcome these announcements to buy palm oil from deforestation-free, peat-free and exploitation-free sources. Such actions have the potential to transform the entire palm oil industry, with considerable positive implications for our efforts to combat climate change, protect biodiversity and promote social justice. I encourage other companies to make similar commitments ahead of the 2014 Climate Summit in September. Let us turn problems into solutions, and challenges into opportunity.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that deforestation represents a net 10 per cent of the climate challenge. Martinez-Soliman said the combined potential of forest restoration and reduced deforestation could constitute an even larger proportion of the available mitigation potential. “There is indeed ample evidence today from all parts of the world that addressing land use and climate change has enormous potential for socioeconomic and environmental co-benefits,” he said. “This includes improving livelihoods and food security, climate resilience, water and biodiversity conservation, and respecting the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. In other words, it advances sustainable development.”

On April 3, 2014
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