Cross posted from Rainforest Rescue
The World Bank has invested $2 billion into palm oil cultivation and use since 1965, at last half of it in Indonesia and Malaysia. Palm oil companies such as Wilmar International were regularly granted loans and development funds by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group. Over the last 45 years, oil palm plantations have grown eightfold worldwide – 23-fold in Indonesia, according to the World Bank. The World Bank has financed 15 palm oil projects in Indonesia and boasts about the “successful establishment of 100,000 hectares of oil palm plantations”.
The impacts have been disastrous: Oil palm expansion is the main cause of hundreds of, often violent land conflicts, rainforest destruction and species extinction in South-east Asia. Indigenous peoples have been desprived of their homes and livelihoods for palm oil. Thousands of orangutans are being killed as rainforest is cut and burned down for plantations. In Africa and Latin America, too, people and nature are suffering as a result of fast expanding, export-oriented oil palm plantations.
Last year, the World Bank could no longer ignore the complaints: In August 2009, World Bank President Robert Zoellick suspended all palm oil funding and announced a comprehensive palm oil strategy. Now, however, the World Bank seems determined to go back to ‘business as usual’. The new World Bank Draft Framework for Palm Oil is a farce.
The World Bank claims to want to promote ‘sustainable’ palm oil production, but the vast industrial plantations which they want to continue funding and the production of great quantities of palm oil for the global market can be neither enviornmentally nor socially sustainable. Palm oil production consumes vast quantities of energy, land, fertile soils and water. RSPO certification cannot change this fact. Palm oil is now contained in ever more products, from food to cosmetics and cleaners and it is being increasingly used for biodiesel and in power stations. This disastrous development must be stopped.
On 21st September, environmental and social campaigners worldwide will mark the International Day Against Tree Monocultures. Together with the World Rainforest Movement, we are asking people to sign the letter below which will be sent to the World Bank.