The private sector has a key role to play in responsible stewardship of forests and the conservation of natural habitats. ESPOAG (European Sustainable Palm Oil Advocacy Group), whose IMACE is a member, supports the EU objective to stop deforestation by 2030, at the latest. Steady progress is being made by the industry to transform its supply chains. ESPOAG members are committed to 100% sustainable sourcing of palm oil by 2020.
Deforestation is closely correlated with economic and social development of indigenous people, smallholder farmers, and local communities. The fastest way to end deforestation is for the EU to develop a benchmark for sustainability and to integrate this into bilateral agreements (whether free trade or development cooperation). Private initiatives such as RSPO can play a role here.
Deforestation is a global problem with local solutions. Strengthening environmental policies and regulations, and their enforcement in producing countries, remains critical to preventing deforestation, as well as to ensuring biodiversity and environmental protection. In addition, technological aid and know-how and financial support to smallholders is needed to be able to increase yields whilst adhering to the sustainable development objectives.
Our planet must be sustainably managed and used if we are to meet the growing demand for food responsibly and to be able to feed 11 billion people by 2050.
Private sector and the European Union have to play its role, but cannot change the world alone. Other economies must also take up their responsibility in the transition to sustainability, including in their sourcing policy.