In these pandemic stricken days when good news is hard to come by, the CPOPC is pleased to share good news on Biodiversity Day 2021.
Biodiversity Day 2021 is being celebrated under the slogan: “We’re part of the solution #ForNature”.
The slogan was chosen to be a continuation of the momentum generated last year under the over-arching theme, “Our solutions are in nature”, which served as a reminder that biodiversity remains the answer to several sustainable development challenges.
Striking Conservation Achievements of Palm Oil Producing Countries
Indonesia and Malaysia which produce 85% of the global supply for palm oil is thankful of the crop’s contribution towards the sustainable development. The industry has long identified palm oil as the most suitable crop for the sustainable development of developing countries in the tropics and on this Biodiversity Day 2021, the evidence is clear.
As presented by OurWorldinData, with the advent of new technology the fruits of the humble oil palm tree elais quineensis has been used to provide the global village with:
- Foods: over two-thirds (68%) is used in foods ranging from margarine to chocolate, pizzas, breads and cooking oils;
- Industrial applications: 27% is used in industrial applications and consumer products such as soaps, detergents, cosmetics and cleaning agents;
- Bioenergy: 5% is used as biofuels for transport, electricity or heat.
Palm oil produces 36% of the world’s oil but uses just 6% of croplands devoted to oil production. This point is notable as global voices for a sustainable future reach a peak in these pandemic stricken times.
The deputy UN chief, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed calls the urgent need for global action a “make-or-break moment” at the UN Forum on Forests stating that “forests are at the core of our efforts to restore our relationship with the natural world.”
General Assembly President Volkan Boksir added that a post-pandemic recovery must focus on a:
“strong push around the need to use this momentous recovery effort to create jobs and shovel-ready projects that support land restoration, regenerative agriculture, renewable energy and energy efficiency, as well as investments in sustainable land management”,
Palm Oil the Sustainable Choice for Tropical Biodiversity
The strengthened call to protect biodiversity, especially the rich biodiversity found in the forests of palm oil producing countries, is one that is welcomed. For once, the palm oil producing countries will get a chance to show off the positive impacts of palm oil for biodiversity.
At the Leaders Summit on Climate hosted by US President Joe Biden to coincide with Earth Day, Indonesian President Jokowi impressed on his audience the remarkable achievements of his country in preserving biodiversity. Indonesia’s permanent moratorium on the conversion of primary forests and peatlands covers significant expanses of habitat for multiple flagship species such as Sumatran orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinos as well as the newly-discovered Tapanuli orangutan species.
Malaysia as the second largest producer of palm oil globally has commitments to nature on the same level. Extraordinary conservation efforts by palm oil producing countries are preserving endemic species of flora and fauna despite the threats to their existence from climate change.
Nowhere is this more evident than the orangutans, a great ape found only in Indonesia and Malaysia where both countries have gone to extreme lengths to ensure that they will not only survive but thrive.
Scientific data from 1998 which reported a mere 27,000 orangutans in existence are now reporting over 100,000 orangutans alive and well in their home ranges of Indonesia and Malaysia. This would not have been possible if the environmental impact of palm oil is as dire as commonly misreported.
Palm oil producing countries in the tropics have proved that human activities can co-exist with wildlife without threatening their existence. Whether its biodiversity in Southeast Asia or South America, the palm oil industry has shown without doubt that it is the optimal choice for a vegetable oil that feeds the requirements of humanity without having to sacrifice biodiversity.
Saving the Orangutans Will Require Global Village
However, saving the orangutans and biodiversity in palm oil producing countries in Southeast Asia will need the continued commitments of the global community towards the preservation of biodiversity.
The contributions of the global village from the World Bank to the UN-REDD program and the financial contributions of corporate entities and conservation groups towards the protection of biodiversity in tropical countries remains an inspiration for the conservation ambitions of palm oil producing countries.
The CPOPC celebrates Biodiversity Day 2021 with an acknowledgement of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s statement “From nature-based solutions to climate, health issues, food and water security, and sustainable livelihoods, biodiversity is the foundation upon which we can build back better.”
Palm oil has proven itself to be a part of the solution for nature in these biodiversity rich countries of the tropics. It is time that the humble crop receives recognition for its contribution towards a sustainable future for all humankind at this make or break moment for planet earth.